While virtualisation usage is increasing in the enterprise, inefficient  management of data centres and virtual environments continues to be a  burden. 

This is according to a study by Lighthouse Research, which surveyed 411 enterprise data centre decision makers. It found that although 45%of respondents have implemented virtualisation technology, few are using automated management tools to improve efficiency and resource utilisation in the data centre.
"Effectively managing a data centre has been a challenge for some time, however, the challenge increases with the use of physical and virtual machines in heterogeneous environments," says Drue Reeves, vice-president and research director for the Burton Group."Server virtualisation introduces a whole new world of resource mobility and growth.
"Data centre management software must scale to reduce the complexity associated with virtualisation-induced server sprawl and enable the automated, dynamic data centre."
The study, sponsored by Novell, shows that as organisations move to adopt server virtualisation, the main challenges they face include lack of expertise, difficulty managing virtual servers and having a single point of failure.
This is compounded by the fact that 61% of participants reported they either manually track or do not track server resource consumption, and 79% of respondents report they either manually manage or do not manage the reallocation of server workloads based on available resources.
Possibly as a reaction to manual management challenges, the study indicates a move toward more automated management is taking hold. In fact, survey results show that 72% of respondents will implement automated software patching and updates in the next two years.
In addition, 75% also intend to increase the efficiency of their data centre by using automated server monitoring, which is essential to combat the management complications exacerbated by virtualisation technology.
"Virtualisation brings opportunities to data center managers that other technologies have yet to deliver," says Richard Whitehead, director of product marketing at Novell. "However, as shown by survey respondents, virtualisation also brings a host of management challenges.To fully reap the benefits of virtualisation, data centre managers need a comprehensive strategy, from virtualisation straight through to automated management tools."
Other data centre management highlights of the study include:
* Environmental concerns are a high priority, with enterprises evaluating data centre management solutions on the ability to save space (67%) and power (65%);
* Data centre managers are also looking for solutions that help them address business/IT concerns by allowing them to save time and manpower (87%) and money (82%);
* Enterprise companies are looking for key features in a data centre management tool, including:secured management capabilities (89%), remote access and management (86%), compatibility with multiple operating systems and platforms (85%), automated monitoring and reporting (81%), and policy-based automated software using preset thresholds (72%); and
* More than one half of companies not currently using virtualisation report they are considering the use of server virtualisation in the future.