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Taking a Social Approach to Virtualization

ImageMany companies are choosing to employ virtualization as part of their business strategy in order to work more efficiently and keep needed systems up and running at all times. Virtualization can be a great asset for businesses, but it can also be very complex and difficult to manage and maintain. Some tools have been developed and training is available to make the process smoother, but many considerable challenges still remain. Some experts are now saying the key to managing virtualization systems could lie in a technology many are already familiar with: social media.

Managing a virtualized data center spanning many virtual servers and even thousands of virtualized machines is a complicated endeavor. Administrators have to get used to dealing with hundreds of hosts, confronting problems and issues as they arrive. The tasks can be enormous, and simply identifying the problems can take substantial time and resources. But social media could provide a possible solution for the enormous undertaking due to some of its distinct advantages. Putting the two together--virtualization and social media--has been the goal of many companies in their efforts to streamline this complicated management.

While both virtualization and social media may not seem to have a lot in common at first glance, applying one’s advantages to the other actually comes off as sensible and straightforward. Think about how a social network like Facebook already works. People follow friends, sometime hundreds or even thousands at a time. Those friends keep in contact with each other through regular status updates. Some social networks allow people to group friends together depending on certain criteria or whatever the user decides is important. Social media interfaces are usually intuitive, making for a very user-friendly application.

Now imagine taking all these features and applying them to virtualized data centers. While the idea is only a few years old and still taking shape, great strides have already been made in integrating them. With social media techniques in mind, an administrator is able to follow individual servers. Those servers also run a social media client and follow hosts. These servers and hosts can then send messages or updates to administrators, keeping them informed about the status of the infrastructure. Hosts can also follow virtualized machines, which can also in turn send messages about their status. Hosts and virtual machines can be grouped and configured depending on priority and other requirements, much like friends can be put in groups on social media.

It’s these tools traditionally used for social media purposes that make managing virtualized data centers so much easier. The basic idea is to keep the administrator informed and to send alerts should a problem ever come up. For example, when a problem or event occurs in one of these groups or clusters, the server would post an update and any other connected servers that were affected with the same problem would “like” that update. By using status updates and “likes,” identifying the extent of the problem becomes much easier and faster.

This use of grouping and status updates also help filter through much of the clutter that comes from managing a data center. Administrators can also keep informed not just by using social media techniques but through social media itself. With mobile technology now almost everywhere, IT workers can receive alerts about server and data center problems wherever they go. In fact, some IT experts say using services like Twitter to send out alerts could prove beneficial. Linking servers to actual Twitter accounts is a possibility and can lead to timely action by IT professionals.

Many of these ideas and concepts are still in their beginning stages, but the possible application of social media tools in the world of virtualization can be a game changer. With more intuitive designs and interfaces, specialized training may not be needed nearly as much in the future when companies manage their virtualized data centers. Problems can be addressed more quickly, and businesses will be able to operate more efficiently.

Image Source: Pixlr

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