Living in a Virtual IT World

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Small Business Virtualization Roadmap

An examination of the opportunities and challenges related to server virtualization.

Most organizations stumbled into virtualization as part of an effort to increase the utilization rate of a few physical servers. But pretty soon it became apparent that the IT organizations were going to be managing more virtual than physical servers. As such, many IT leaders are now re-evaluating their strategies in what has increasingly become a virtual IT world.

What's fundamentally different about that world is not just the fact that there are more virtual servers to manage; it's that the nature of application workloads that run on those servers is fundamentally different. Instead of being a relatively static environment, the application workloads running on top of virtual servers are much more dynamic. They can be dormant for extended periods of time, there is more contention for system resources and they can even move from one virtual server to another without much notice.

To help IT leaders wrap their minds around this new virtual IT reality, VMware this week launched VMware Accelerate Advisory Services, which, according to Michael Hubbard, VMware Americas executive for the new service, brings together enterprise architects and former IT executives to help IT organizations understand the business impact of virtualization and cloud computing.

Hubbard says it's important to remember that virtualization specifically and cloud computing in general are a means to an end. In order to maximize the value of technologies, IT organizations need to tie these investments to specific business outcomes. It's not enough to toss around adjectives such as agility and efficiency, adds Hubbard. What's needed he says are concrete efforts that measure the state of IT service today against a set of achievable goals.

IT organizations need to not only know how virtualization products work, but also the impact those technologies will have on their people and the processes the organization depends on. To help make that happen, VMware this week also announced that it has acquired certain assets of Info Tech Health Check (iTHC), which will give VMware access to an additional 3,500 metrics for measuring virtualization performance and maturity.

Hubbard says VMware recognizes that in some respects customers will see its advisory service as being biased. But given the level of investment they have made in VMware technologies, Hubbard says customers have made it clear that they expect the same level of strategic advice from VMware that they now get from companies such as SAP. Hubbard says the advisory service creates a vehicle for creating those relationships.

Whatever the approach to virtualization and cloud computing, it's become clear that many IT organizations that embraced virtualization to address certain tactical issues are now finding themselves in a brave new world with little to no map to guide them. In those circumstances, any and all advice is usually welcome.

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