The virtualisation market explored

Trends in the virtualisation market for the near term.

The economy is going slow, but slowly building momentum. This is the time CIOs should consider virtualization.

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Virtualization enhances flexibility and agility by detaching workloads and data from the functional side of a physical infrastructure. This can optimize cost and be self-funding on a large scale. It can also result in a net savings, which would free up funds for other initiatives.

Virtualization brings increased capabilities to enterprise users, but it takes investment. Possibilities abound for networks, storage, servers and desktops.

A disadvantage is that virtualization involves substantial upfront investment. IT management should make an assessment of elements to be virtualized, and an evaluation of physical, transactional and commercial reasons for moving forward. A review of offerings by various vendors, focusing on interoperability and common management, is also key.

Enterprises can achieve a 20% to 50% cost savings, while enjoying increased flexibility and speed, and improved quality of service. For example, server virtualization yields a rewarding return on investment (ROI) in servers, power and cooling, data center space, and administration, while enabling administrators to develop business-driven policies for optimizing resources.

If you’ve only virtualized to consolidate workloads, or virtualized only test/development, then you should consider benefits such as improved service-level agreements and availability.

Goals and savings differ for various virtualization technologies. For example, there are no consolidation savings for desktop virtualization, but there may be for storage and servers. Also, not every desktop, server or storage array should be virtualized. Some workloads are less virtualization-ready than others.

It is important to identify those workloads that should remain physical, and manage them accordingly.

Virtualization projects require “before and after” comparisons at each phase. A possible approach includes these steps:

  • Assess where you can achieve efficiencies through virtualization, and where to rationalize infrastructure and reduce complexity.
  • Assess elements to be virtualized. Evaluate physical, transactional and commercial reasons for moving forward.
  • Architect the infrastructure to adapt to cloud and other delivery models, planning for rapidly evolving innovation and mixed service delivery.
  • Balance vendor capabilities and contracts with an eye toward heterogeneity and interoperability. You might consider using a mixed approach that allows various levels of service and price points.
  • Focus on service and service-level improvements. Use a process-based approach and implement process work as an ongoing, repeatable series of tasks.
  • Track cost savings and investments and expenses in all areas and invest in tools that allow you to measure the effects of virtualization at all phases.

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