Although some forms of virtualization are mature, the technology brings about unexpected operational change that affects admin staff in storage, database, server and backup roles, according to a new study. The expected-actual gaps in benefits for different forms of virtualization

Virtualization disrupts IT operational process: Symantec

Cloud and virtualization adoption in organizations shows a clear discrepancy between expectations and actual realized benefits that spans anywhere from four to 37 per cent regarding factors such as scalability and reduced capital and operational expenditure, according to a new survey by Symantec Corp.

The principle reason is that, although some forms of virtualization are mature, the technology brings about unexpected operational change that affects admin staff in storage, database, server and backup roles, said Sean Derrington, director with the Mountain View, Calif.-based company’s cloud product management and information management group.

“Now, there are four groups that are becoming more and more interdependent,” said Derrington.

Specifically, the study reveals an expected-actual gap in benefits of 37 per cent for private storage-as-a-service, 33 per cent for storage virtualization, 32 per cent for private or hybrid cloud, 26 per cent for desktop and endpoint virtualization, and four per cent for server virtualization.

The study, 2011 Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud, polled 3,700 respondents from 35 countries, of which 200 are based in Canada.

Derrington said storage and server virtualization, for instance, although mature and reliable technologies that have been around for years, can still significantly impact the operational workflow that IT admins have become accustomed to.

While the study did not delve into how IT departments are managing operational change—for instance, who actually administers server virtualization in the company—respondents identified cutting operational expenditure as a concern.

To better manage operational change in the face of virtualization deployments, Derrington advises IT departments to be more efficient and responsive to the business. This means aligning expectations between IT and business execs.

“So there needs to be some sort of baseline about, ‘This is possible to do, let’s go do it,’” said Derrington.

Also, he added, IT departments must stop taking a siloed approach to supporting the business. Instead, they must adopt the mentality that server, storage and networking resources are “shared” across all applications regardless of department.

Gaps in expectation aside, the study found, in response to which business-critical apps are next in line for virtualization, that 77 per cent of Canadian companies have slated database applications to go virtual within the next 12 months.

Also, globally, among the 76 per cent of enterprises that have virtualized servers, security was an “extremely large” concern when putting business-critical apps on virtualized servers.

The study reports that 60 per cent of Canadian companies are implementing server virtualization.

During a recent roundtable of Canadian IT leaders, discussing their paths to cloud adoption, one Hewlett-Packard Canada executive half-joked he is sometimes tempted to run a “Why Bother Workshop” to help customers understand if and how to tackle the not-so-simple matter of cloud computing and how that might benefit their business.

“I usually start with the question, ‘Why bother?’” said Bill Dupley, chief solutions manager with Hewlett-Packard Canada Co. HP moved its IT infrastructure to a private cloud in 2008, reducing maintenance from 72 to 20 per cent.

The decision to adopt the cloud in any company is essentially a business project because the business units control their IT budget and manage their apps and desired service levels, Dupley pointed out. But this can also be a barrier to cloud adoption and also to reaping the true benefit got only from company-wide adoption, not hodgepodge projects.

But Dupley said the emergence of enterprise-class cloud services to market in the past year is affording businesses more options. Now, they must identify the business driver to adopting cloud services because it’s hardly a simple matter, he added.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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