Profoss / Events / January 2008: Virtualisation / Speakers / Niko Nelissen

Niko Nelissen

Speaker Details
Name Niko Nelissen
Title VP Business Development

Niko Nelissen is co-founder and VP Business Development of Q-layer, a rapidly growing venture with unique datacenter virtualization technology. Q-layer enables service provider to bring to market a disruptive "virtual private datacenter" offering. Previously, Niko was co-founder and Technical Director at Hostbasket, the leading hosting provider in Belgium serving over 30.000 customers with a wide product range including shared hosting, dedicated hosting, datacenter co-location services, hosted Exchange and hosted Sharepoint. Niko has in-depth knowledge on hosting solutions, datacenter automation, server virtualization and storage virtualization. He started his career at Siemens where he did business development in EMEA for automation software.


Why is the future in management tools?

Virtualization makes it extremely easy to create new servers. In order to cope with "server sprawl", good management tools are absolutely a necessity.

There is another reason why management tools are increasingly important. Remember that virtualization is not a goal in itself. Virtualization is a means to consolidate hardware, but also to increase agility, to enable instant provisioning and to increase uptime.

These goals can be achieved when the overall infrastructure is virtualized, not just the servers, but also the network and the storage. Management tools tie these three layers together, they enable automation and they enable delegation of provisioning and daily management to end-users or local IT departments. Without the management tools, all the benefits of a fully virtualized infrastructure cannot be leveraged.

Is the hypervisor really a commodity these days? Is that a consequence of open source offerings?

I certainly think that thanks to the open source hypervisors on the market, commercial vendors have decided to make the hypervisor free of charge. In the end the hypervisor will merely become a feature of every operating system. I think in a few years time we will no longer talk about virtual servers.


What type of management tools exist today, and are these equally available for closed and open source offerings?

What we see is that many vendors are integrating the Xen hypervisor today and they add their own management tools. It's unfortunate that there are so little solutions available that support multiple hypervisors. At Q-layer we build a framework that supports all major hypervisors, open source and commercial. This is important in my opinion. A user should be able to choose the optimal hypervisor for each new project or application. We are just at the beginning of the evolution of management tools. Vendors need to realize how many new scenario's become available thanks to virtualization, with regards to disaster recovery, distribution of load, optimizing energy consumption etc. It will take some time for all these scenario's to be implemented in management tools. One remark I would like to make, is that a good management solution scales across multiple physical servers, and even across multiple datacenters. Make sure to look for exdendibility, I particularly believe in the "work flow" approach and policy based management of a virtual environment.

From your experience at a hosting provider, is virtualisation a good or a bad thing?

In the past, virtualization in the hosting provider world was all about chopping a physical server in many very small pieces. It was about selling a low-end solution for a very low price. This has done quite some harm to the hosting business. A virtual server can be a more high-end solution than a physical server: a virtual server is typically backed up with snapshots and it allows for actual disaster recovery. Further more, a virtual server can be provisioned in just a few minutes. It can be resized on the fly if needed, and it can be moved to another node or another datacenter without any downtime. So virtualization allows hosting providers to bring new exciting products to market with attractive margins. Just have a look at our "virtual private datacenter" concept, where an end-user remotely builds his own datacenter including servers, networks, virtual SAN's for storage and virtual fileservers.

Where will virtualisation stop? Do you really want people to virtualise their whole datacenter?

Absolutely ! The whole datacenter will certainly be virtual in due time. But does this mean that every operating system will be running on a hypervisor ? Maybe not. If you need all the CPU, memory and I/O that you can get, you might not want to use a hypervisor. But you can still virtualize the underlying storage. If the server has no local disks and boots from a virtualized storage layer, you have almost the same flexibility as with a virtual server. There is still a lot of work to be done in datacenters, just look at the cost and the current dependency on hardware appliances. Virtual appliances will play an important role here. In the end a datacenter will just be a pool of resources, and all provisioning and management will be performed remotely through an intuitive user interface.