While there's no doubt that costs are a big factor when it comes to why IT organizations are embracing virtualization and cloud computing today, it turns out that more IT organizations are starting to appreciate the flexibility inherently provided by virtualization and cloud computing.
A global survey of 2,600 IT professionals conducted by InsightExpress on behalf of Cisco found that 32 percent cited IT agility as their top data center priority over the next three years, compared with 31 percent who cited managing resource capacity better as a priority.
When it comes to virtualization specifically, 30 percent cited IT agility as the primary reason to deploy virtualization, compared with 24 percent who cited costs.
The survey results seem to indicate that IT organizations are responding to changing business demands. Business leaders want to be able to quickly scale up and scale down IT resources when needed, which means that the IT organization can no longer be seen as an impediment to changing business conditions.
Interest in achieving agility has IT organizations essentially debating the merits of two approaches. There are new integrated turnkey platforms, such as the Cisco Unified Computing System, that are available today.
The other approach is to wait for new network standards to evolve that promise to simplify the management of IT once they are ratified. There are some products on the market today that support the current form of these standards. But as Craig Huitema, Cisco director of data center solutions notes, it may take years for every major vendor in the market to deliver products and technologies that support these standards.
In the meantime, Huitema says customers are anxious to gain the flexibility and cost savings afforded by offerings such as Cisco UCS today. The tradeoff, many Cisco rivals argue, is that the Cisco approach locks customers into a single vendor architecture.
All these changes in the data center also bring with them plenty of concerns and opportunities as IT professionals attempt to stave off the long-term implications data center convergence will have on their jobs.
Convergence creates an opportunity for IT organizations to combine server, networking and storage management tasks in ways that the cloud reduced IT headcount. Senior IT leaders are anxious to take advantage of the potential savings afforded by these systems. But it's unclear how some IT headcount might be reallocated within the IT organization to support other job functions. But for the moment, the Cisco survey indicates that most participants are optimistic about their futures in this brave new world of data center management.
At the same time, most survey participants are also sure that their IT organization will be embracing some form of cloud computing on private cloud computing infrastructure.
That means that right now the data center as we know it is subject to both internal and external forces that are driving more changes today than any time during the past 10 years. And while the survey makes it clear that this process is just getting started, there's no doubt that enterprise IT as we know it today is going to be substantially different come this time next year.