Understanding the benefits of virtualization

IT professionals are still ignorant about the advantages of virtualization, according to a survey from virtualization specialist C&C Technology.

Virtualizing applications allows a single system to run multiple incompatible operating systems. This reduces the number of servers required, and cuts associated costs such as administration, power and cooling, as well as simplifying the running of legacy systems.

The survey of 50 IT professionals, from IT directors to network managers, found that 38 per cent of companies taking part had only an ‘average’ knowledge of virtualization, while 48 per cent felt they were using the technology to their advantage. The biggest barrier to take-up, according to the survey, was the perceived complexity and cost of making the change.

Richard Gigg, sales and marketing director of C&C Technology Consulting, said he saw huge potential for virtualization technology as organizations become more aware of the advantages. Adopting virtualization, he said, was faster and simpler than most organizations realized, with an average, medium-sized implementation taking about two weeks.

According to Gibbs, survey respondents saw the main advantage of virtualization as being the reduced cost and complexity of introducing new applications. “The improved business flexibility they gain was key,” he said. “You can test and deploy new applications much more efficiently without affecting existing applications.”

Gibb added that moves from other firms to promote virtualization technology could only increase awareness of the benefits. Of VMware’s decision to make its GSX Server software free, he commented: “They had to do it because of what the competition are doing, but it will help increase the take-up. I can see the day when virtualization will be the norm.”

Stephen Ibaraki, industry analyst and director-at-large for the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) said that while users are aware of virtualization technology in an overview sense, so far only a limited few are actually embracing the technology.

As it stands presently, the biggest barriers to virtualization take-up are technology maturity, cost, performance, management/automation, education, and anticipated chip support, Ibaraki notes.

But this year, he adds, should see even more awareness, particularly around virtualization news and announcements.

“In 2006, you will see a significant increase in spending from the major chips vendors (Intel, AMD) and virtualization software providers such as Microsoft in educating the public about virtualization benefits,” Ibaraki said.

“This rapid uptake in education will increase virtualization penetration from a side-note to mainstream in 2009. By late 2008, expect virtualization to be widespread as IT managers work to reduce server sprawl through consolidation and double server utilization.”

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