IT consultancy Glasshouse Technologies has launched a managed service to help companies manage their virtualisation infrastructures, as well as optimise its return on investment (ROI).

Glasshouse says that with its Virtualisation Optimisation Service, "vendor-independent professionals" look at ongoing ways of reducing costs beyond the normal approach of server consolidation, via a number of other methods including round the clock monitoring and reporting on virtualisation machine activities.

Glasshouse says that its consultants look to provide practical, actionable recommendations for how a business can keep its virtual environment optimised for maximum efficiency and cost-savings. It also aims to improve service levels.

Glasshouse is launching this service, at a time when IT budgets are under increasing pressure, coupled with scarce virtualisation resources, with IT department reportedly struggling to find or pay for suitably experienced staff with the necessary virtualisation skill sets.

Glasshouse says that its Virtualisation Optimisation Service is an optional extra for its Managed Services for Virtualised Environments offering, which allows organisations to offload the day-to-day operations of virtualised infrastructures to "experienced, independent consultants." The company only works with VMware infrastructure at the moment, but is working towards dealing with Microsoft and Citrix Zen technologies as well.

"In the last several years, enterprises have been rapidly adopting virtualisation technologies due to its ability to corral sever sprawl," said Rob Wilson, director of virtualisation services at GlassHouse in a statement. "Now that companies have realised the consolidation benefits, organisations are now exploring best ways to optimise their virtual investments to ensure the greatest return - especially in this cost-conscious economy. Our new service provides organisations with the visibility and management tools necessary to achieve these returns in spite of mounting reductions in resources."

"It (the service) has sort of evolved over the last year so," Wilson told Techworld. "The goal of the service is to be there monitoring every single day of every week, and to give alerts of performance issues and thresholds."

"We differ from others because of the ongoing recommendations from our senior experts, who are not only monitoring the service," he said. "Customers now have someone at the other end of line to interpret the reports for their business, to answer questions like when are they going to enter the red, why they are not going to meet the demand etc."

"The service acts like a trusted advisor," Wilson said. "It comes with couple of hours per month, where can question us over specific issues. Plus, customers are provided with weekly reports, which include individual recommendations and opinions from a Glasshouse consultant."

Wilson explained that Glasshouse's Horizon management interface sits inside customer location and is used for performance reporting on virtual machines and hosts in order to maximise efficiencies. It is also used for capacity planning to help businesses predict potential bottlenecks and minimise risks; configuration and asset management to optimise the infrastructure; forecasting and constraint identification based on trend reports to improve service levels; analysis of triggered alerts for optimisation opportunities; and 24/7 incident management and monitoring of critical issues all year round, in order to maintain support of the business.

Glasshouse has system operating centres in North Carolina, and in the United Kingdom, with "people watching the board, waiting for alerts to come in and we then trigger a reaction when something happens. The reporting is more of an automated process, putting reports on a customer dashboard, with graphics, bars, utilisation charts, etc."

"The service offers three things, reporting, optimising, and providing recommendations," said Wilson. "It is all about cost saving now. It is all about ROI and what I call 'squeezing the orange'. We are extremely busy. People are not waiting 18 months anymore for this. They want it now in eight months or less."

The optimisation service is subscription based. It is broken down into 'buckets' with varying pricing 'fingers'. Under 49 servers for example typically costs $5,000 (£3,453) per month.