For any IT department, the first 20, 30 or even 40 per cent of physical servers are the easiest to virtualize. But after that, many virtualization strategies grind to a surprising halt in the face of unexpected hurdles such as server sprawl and server stall.
While both problems manifest themselves quite differently, at the root of it, a flimsy virtualization strategy is to blame. The lack of visibility into how the IT infrastructure is slowly turning into a virtualized environment is one sure-fire way to lose direction, thinks Ratmir Timashev, president and CEO of Veeam Software Inc.
“They don’t have enough tools to manage this and that’s where virtualization projects fall,” said Timashev.
A recent study, commissioned by the Columbus, Ohio-based vendor of virtualization management tools, found that 49 per cent of global IT leaders of medium-sized companies have trouble resolving IT issues as a result of lack of visibility into virtual environments. Moreover, 45 per cent reported poor visibility was slowing adoption of virtualization.
Timashev said traditional management tools are built for visibility into physical environments. But virtualization is a curve ball that presents a new set of challenges that IT departments are often not prepared for.
It’s not unusual for IT departments to either slow down or stop a project mid-way in order to reorient themselves. But when it comes to virtualization, taking a breather for a necessary re-assessment is a sign that the IT organization is pulling back on its virtualization strategy, said Andi Mann, vice-president of virtualization product marketing with Islandia, N.Y.-based CA Technologies Inc.
“Virtual stall is just typical of big projects in IT,” said Mann, formerly an IT analyst. “They can get out of control a little bit.”
The issue, according to Mann, is “barriers of scale.” ROI is easily reaped when virtualizing non-disruptive systems, such as test and development servers. But the real challenge is when IT departments want to extend that reach and start virtualizing mission-critical applications in the absence of resources and the right talent.
It’s less easy to devise a strategy that will scale to the entire enterprise, said Mann, who has seen many strategies failing to account for potential hurdles down the road. Instead, IT departments often get caught up in the glamour of virtualization and the golden promise of a massive ROI.
Mann said that laying out a solid strategy at the outset should entail certain cornerstones including business leadership buy-in, a recognition that a virtualized environment is complex and will incur costs, and a plan to develop the appropriate skills in-house or bring them in from outside in order to support going virtual.