When virtualization becomes your worst enemy

Wrapping everything up in the same box makes hard tasks easy and big problems bigger

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Accidental Armageddon
As an example, in the days of old, if a storage array stopped talking for whatever reason, it affected only the few servers using it. A single application might go offline, but the remainder of the infrastructure hummed right along.

These days, even with all sorts of protections in place, if the wrong LUN is deleted or a storage array suffers from some failure, it can conceivably take out hundreds of servers. Even assuming replication and snapshots, it will be a long while before those servers are back online, and it's highly likely that a significant portion of the infrastructure will remain offline with them. We live our lives with the understanding that a single misstep, typo, or inadvertent click can cause big problems, but when working with systems that support massive sections of the infrastructure, those clicks get even more riskier.

We may have multiple domain controllers, DHCP and DNS servers, and contingency plans galore, but that matters none if they're all affected by the same problem because they share the same fundaments. Once the clock starts ticking with those services offline, the problems begin to get worse -- as desktop systems, phones, and other devices start to lose their DHCP leases, the disaster grows. Scheduled jobs that try to run begin failing for one reason or another, and start to stack up or cause data corruption problems.

As we continue the trend of collecting all of our eggs in one basket, we need to understand the potential problems we're creating and hedge our bets accordingly. Yes, we can build an entire corporate data center in software now, including everything from the routers to the firewalls to the load balancers to the network itself. We can tightly couple all of these components together to make management, upgrades, expansion, and production much faster, easier, and cost effective. These are the unarguable reasons that we're virtualizing everything we can.

While that foundation is stable, we reap the rewards. When the foundation fails, we have more work to do than ever to repair it.

This story, "When virtualization becomes your worst enemy," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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