Virtualization offers a number of benefits – better utilization of IT resources, lower power and cooling costs, improved manageability and so on and so forth. In tough economic times, these benefits become even more pronounced, particularly when organizations face IT budget freezes or cuts. As we embrace 2009 with more volatility and uncertainty ahead, one thing is certain – virtualization will be an integral part of helping enterprises increase efficiency, agility and competitiveness.
Realizing the benefits of virtualization however is not about purchasing the latest hardware nor is it about selecting the most popular hypervisor. Such an approach can often lead to over-provisioning and longer amortization periods for newly acquired software and infrastructure. Instead, it is essential for companies to start every virtualization project with a proper analysis of existing IT infrastructure, consideration of multiple platforms and proactive capacity planning for virtualized environments. In today’s economy, it’s all about doing more with less. Here are the trends we are going to see in 2009 and insights on how organizations can capitalize on opportunities presented by these trends.
1. More virtualization platform choices
Increased competition among virtualization platform vendors will create lots of noise but at the same time lots of opportunities for enterprises to get more value from virtualization. Before standardizing on a particular virtualization platform, it is essential to compare at least two platform solutions side-by-side. Furthermore, we suggest evaluating both hypervisor- and OS-based virtualization approaches. For example, workloads with homogeneous operating systems are particularly suitable for operating system virtualization. Products such as Parallels Virtuozzo Containers offer higher consolidation ratios and have lower virtualization overhead compared to hypervisor-based approaches.
Enterprises should analyze compatibility of existing workloads with target platforms, management applications available for managing these workloads and the total cost of each complete solution. To ensure that this analysis is accurate, each project should be started with a comprehensive virtualization assessment so that each virtualization solution is based on current and forecasted workload demand.
2. Increased focus on desktop and application virtualization
Now that server virtualization is mainstream, more companies will start looking at desktop and application virtualization next year to further reduce costs and improve usage efficiency of IT resources. Even if an organization is only starting with server virtualization, it is essential to understand how the data center can evolve towards hosting desktop and application workloads. For each virtualization project, both desktops and servers should be assessed so that long-term solution options can be defined. To lower the cost of adoption, we suggest that enterprises explore upfront how each virtualization platform will enable desktop and application virtualization efforts.
3. More and more management applications for virtualized environments
Before selecting a virtualization platform, it is important to decide upfront what kind of management applications will enable efficient management of virtualized environments. For example, companies such as Surgient and VMLogix offer virtual lab management applications for enabling development, test and support organizations. Other software vendors like Embotics help organizations manage the lifecycle of virtual machines to prevent VM sprawl. To avoid vendor lock-in, selecting management applications that support multiple virtualization platforms should be a very important consideration to factor in. There will be lots of management applications to choose from, but this decision should be made in conjunction with the selection of the virtualization platform.
Because management applications have different licensing models, it is essential to know how many workloads and how many virtual machine hosts will be in the target environment. If capacity planning is not used to generate this information upfront, then it will be difficult to accurately estimate the total cost of each complete virtualization solution.
With proactive capacity planning, IT organizations can take a data-driven approach towards virtualizing servers, desktops and applications. Without this insight, it is challenging to select the most suitable virtualization platform, determine hardware requirements and estimate the cost of licenses for management applications and virtualization software. One thing is certain – virtualization will become more important than ever for helping companies do more with less, especially in the turbulent yet exciting year ahead.
(Also published on VMBlog)