Companies that rely on server virtualization to support critical IT infrastructure need to know that their VMware administrators are proficient.
IT department leaders can determine competency by benchmarking VMware admins' performance frequently to make sure the virtualized infrastructure is in the right hands.
Ways to measure VMware administrators' performance
There are a few ways to ascertain if a problem is with the VMware administrator or with the product.
Here's one example: vMotions are failing. IT executives can't get hung up on the intricacies of vMotion, which version of vSphere is in use, clusters and network latency requirements. This is an administrator's realm, and it's up to them to determine the vMotion issue's root cause and to design and implement a timely fix within the infrastructure's existing constraints.
"If there are ongoing problems or things not patched or [are] out of date -- [that should set off] warning bells," said Adam Fowler, IT operations manager at Piper Alderman, a law firm in Australia that runs Microsoft Hyper-V.
Assessing your IT staff is mostly about "observation and issue resolution," said Fowler, who has experience with both vSphere and Hyper-V virtualization.
Watch for administrators who need to purchase and install more software each time a problem arises, for example. While a new feature or tool might be the right answer in some cases, the requested purchase also could be a sign that the VMware admin doesn't understand what's already in place.
How ISPs should assess VMware administrators
In IT service provider (ISP) environments, diverse clients mean diverse VMware-based operations. That means that each project is unique and requires flexibility and good planning by the IT team.
Every new project kicks off with a clear list of what we need to achieve, said Adam Winter, president of SwiftecIT Inc., an IT service provider in Shrewsbury, Mass.
"After the project, we have a review meeting to check: Was the project implemented according to plan? What went well? What could have been done better?" Winter said. This combination of clear benchmarks and project milestones with immediate feedback keeps his VMware administrators focused and productive.
ITOTS Networks, which offers enterprise data center design and architecture services, also takes into account its clientele's business climate when assessing employees -- mainly because the business is based in Silver Spring, Md.
The state and federal government are its biggest clients. Many of ITOTS' large private customers in the area serve the federal sector as well.
With the layers of approval and high security affecting every decision in government and government-contractor businesses, employees must prove they have the "qualities and integrity to do a good job," said Todd Sander, senior partner and enterprise data center architect at ITOTS, summing it up as clients' trust in your team.
Since ISPs encounter diverse project requirements and a range of vSphere versions and editions in play, performance assessment can come down to a customer's satisfaction with the staff and with the project, as well as the skills an employee applies.