Don’t manage virtual servers like physical servers.

This post on Slashdot got me thinking about what I usually see IT departments do when they adopt a virtualization technology like VMware or Microsoft’s Virtual Server platform.

Most of the time they will buy a few big boxes and then provision virtuals on top of them, then proceed to manage those servers like physical boxes (because that is what they have always done). Ultimately virtualization means distributing the management responsibility for business systems to those who are both capable and most impacted by those systems.

That means that if you have a software development team that needs an entire Virtual Server host so that they can create and delete servers as they see fit – give it to them, they probably know more about what they are doing with the applications anyway.

But I’ve blogged about these kinds of control issues before.

2 thoughts on “Don’t manage virtual servers like physical servers.

  1. Kieran Jacobsen

    Actually, if you let your software teams go nuts with the virtual machines, yet are forced to keep everything within corporate policy, your heading into a new world of hell. We now have 200 odd virtual machines that are for development, most mangement will be done by the “owner” of the box, but most software developers want to code, not patch and maintain Windows environments, so their Admin has to pick up the work. Leting users do what they want is good, for a while, don’t get me wrong, but you need to reign them on a regulat basis.

  2. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Kieran,

    In my experience, software developers and system administrators are both as bad as each other when it comes to patching boxes. However – I believe that both can be told about proper care and feeding of servers, its not something that “just a system administrator” can do.

    System administrators then, can communicate to the system owners that they have noticed that the patches on a server aren’t up to date, but delegate the responsibility to the developer to doing it. This is especially effective if tools for automated snapshots and rollbacks are integrated into your virtual hosting infrastructure.

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