Virtualization, Yes. But Where? And How?


Market data thus far indicates that while virtualization has gained a foothold in the majority of data centers out there, it has yet to make its way to core functions. This is a strong indication that most IT executives are still in the experimental phase and are either not yet sure how it will function in critical environments or how to best deploy and then manage the technology once it gets there.


This isn't surprising, really, as fear of the unknown has always been the great limiting factor in any human endeavor-technological or otherwise. In fact, I would argue that precipitous deployment at this stage of the game would be both unwise and irresponsible.


But that doesn't mean the unknown will remain that way forever. And one of the biggest unknowns is how virtualization will impact the everyday lives of IT managers. Steve Kaplan, of virtualization services company INX, takes a stab at this question by exploding one of the primary myths of virtualization: that IT staffs will be overwhelmed by the complexity of the new environment. In reality, he says, virtual platforms like VMware are highly intuitive and are often less burdensome and more flexible than physical infrastructures.


Once the virtual environment is established, he says, IT executives are often amazed at the ease of management and increased capability factors in everything from remote access and hardware upgrades to server testing, patching and troubleshooting. And it often coincides with reduced operating costs, primarily due to the reduced demands on management staff.


And it's likely that costs will be a big factor in virtualization deployment, whether IT feels it is ready or not. A recent survey from AFCOM indicated that 86 percent of enterprise executives expect to lower hardware capital costs through virtualization in 2009, even as a two-thirds majority plan on holding the line or slightly increasing their overall IT spend.


But if you're still unsure about virtualization or what it can do for you, I suggest you take this test on Computerworld. Malcolm Hamer came up with 12 questions to hopefully expel any uncertainty over what virtualization is and what it can and cannot do. It's not a feelgood test, as it does point out some of the difficulties still underlying the technology, but if you're on the fence, this is a healthy exercise. I went six-and-one for the first half then blew four straight in the second. Good thing I'm a journalist and not an IT administrator.