Although cloud computing equipment vendors and service providers would like to insist that it's not really a private cloud unless it's fully automated, Wolf said the reality is "some manual processes have to be expected." But the preferred implementation would not give the IT admin the management controls over specific virtual security functions associated with the VMs.
Regardless of which VM platform is used — there is some mix-and-match in the enterprise today though it poses specific management challenges — Gartner analysts say there is a dearth of mature management tools for virtualized systems.
"There's a disconnect today," said Wolf, noting that a recent forum Gartner held for more than a dozen CIOs overseeing their organizations building private clouds, more than 75% said they were using home-grown management tools for things like hooking into asset management systems and ticketing.
Nevertheless, Gartner is urging enterprises to put together a long-term strategy for the private cloud and brace for the fast-paced changes among vendor and providers that will bring new products and services — and no doubt, a number of market drop-outs along the way.
But this private cloud planning will involve updating procurement and change management processes used internally today, as well as figuring out which applications are most suited to be virtualized. Starting off with file and print and simpler applications not considered mission-critical is a good way to start. "some applications can't be virtualized because they have special hardware requirements," Wolf said.
For example, Paul Rizzo, GlaxoSmithKline's infrastructure business partner, end user infrastructure services, said the pharmaceuticals giant has found that Microsoft SharePoint does not run well in VMware.
For the long-term, Gartner cautioned businesses to make sure that future requests-for-proposal to software vendors stipulate that applications support virtualization is needed, Wolf also noted in one session that there is significant complexity in virtualization mobility, moving a VM from one hypervisor to another.
"Multiple hypervisors in the data center might need different configuration management tools," he pointed out. Sometimes enterprises in separate locations or business units are deploying different vendor hypervisors, which "can be problematic for failover, and a challenge for change control." But he noted that VMware's high licensing costs and restrictions on per-VM use in the cloud, mean IT managers may want to keep their options open to consider a switch.