Virtualization First

Michael Vizard

There's been a lot of debate over the relative stages of virtualization that various IT organizations are in today. It's generally accepted that most are past the relatively simple stage of merely leveraging virtualization technology to consolidate physical servers. But as many IT organizations approach the next stage of virtualization, they are finding that a lack of management tools coupled with the limitations of existing physical servers is conspiring to slow their rate of virtualization adoption.

VMware says it is moving to address the virtualization management side of this equation with tools such as VMware vCloud Director and VMware vCloud Request Manager. Rob Smoot, VMware group product marketing manager for management, acknowledges that new tools are only a start. VMware, he said, is advising customers to rethink their entire approach managing IT.

Those changes, said Smoot, include putting additional emphasis on project management, developing discrete processes for managing virtual machines, and making sure your entire IT staff is up to date in terms of virtualization skills. In fact, Smoot says IT organizations should not be relying on dedicated virtualization specialists. The entire IT organization needs to understand and be able to manage a virtual machine environment.

Furthermore, Smoot says IT organizations should just assume that any new application workloads are going to run on a virtual machine. Running application workloads on physical servers should be the exception rather than the rule, he said, because virtual machines today can handle even the most demanding mission-critical workloads. Of course, not everybody in the land of IT agrees with that assessment. But Smoot says the assumption going forward should be that virtualization will be the first thing that IT organizations deploy to run any given application workload. In fact, a recent survey conducted by VMware finds that 61 percent of the customers surveyed have already adopted a 'virtualization first' IT strategy.

Smoot  says IT automation will also play a major role in the evolution of 'virtual data centers,' so IT organizations should expect to see many of the functions they manually perform today be automated in the near future as VMware rolls out more policy-driven management tools.

While some customers may be experiencing some form of virtual machine stall because of management issues, Smoot says this situation is really just a moment in time that reflects the relative maturity of IT organizations when it comes to virtualization management. With the adoption of best practices and the advent of more sophisticated virtualization management tools, he adds, any issue that an IT organization might be experiencing will soon be resolved.

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