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If You Aren’t 100% Virtualized, You’re Missing Out

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on February 28, 2013

The Softchoice team recently wrapped up the week at VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) and one thing was clear: many companies are still lagging behind in their virtualization efforts. In my opinion, this is a big problem. You should be 100% virtualized.

Let start with the why

First (and always first) lets look at dollars. VMware shared a study of a Fortune 100 enterprise they completed with McKinsey & Company. The question that was asked: how much could you save by running your current IT Operations with virtualization and all the modern tools and were not held back by your current legacy systems. The answer? 70% savings in CAPEX and 50% savings in OPEX.

And if that’s not compelling enough, read on for an even more compelling reason you should be 100% virtualized.

The simplification and unification of everything. 

Why is this important? Today, many companies have different ways to complete backups and ensure High Availability, Disaster Recovery (HADR) and monitoring for all of their systems. When you are 100% virtualized, backup, HADR and monitoring are handled at the hypervisor level with the same tools and processes for all workloads. In short, you can handle all of these functions in the same way.

Automate and you’ll enable

Here’s one more reason you should virtualize. Today, your operations resources are kept busy completing repetitive simple tasks that provide little long-term value. How about automating all of those tasks? How about empowering your users through a self-serve portal? What I’m proposing is a standardized work model and unification for all your workloads.

Don’t get left behind

Most companies have some form of virtualization, but it often includes only the “easy” servers like Domain Controllers, DNS servers, and file servers etc. leaving Tier 1 workloads out. This made sense in the past, but today’s Virtual Machines (VMs) are more powerful than most legacy servers: 64 vCPU with 1TB of RAM and 1 million IOPS in a VM anyone?! VMware’s ESX server also provides consistent uptime through high availability than legacy clustering. This means less configuration and human errors that lead to unnecessary downtime. Most vendors have support statements for virtualization. If yours doesn’t, its a bad sign.

What do you want to virtualize? SAP? You can. Exchange? MS SQL? Oracle? No problem. These are critical applications, and careful planning applies, but it can be done!

How to get started

First, start with a strong foundation of governance and policies. Many customers I talk to now have a “virtualized first” policy: any new server must be a virtual one except if a compelling reason exists not to do so. Some are now considering “virtual only”: if an application cannot be virtualized, they select another application.

Second, understand the system you want to host – including Service Level Agreements (SLA), Recovery Point Objectives (RPO), and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) etc. This helps you make a lot of the right decisions from the start.

Third, it continues with knowledge, monitoring and showbacks. Legacy tools that only monitor workloads are not adapted to virtual environments. They cannot provide proper correlation between the underlying hardware that is virtualized and the actual application that is running on it. However, newer tools can. New tools available today can also provide pro-active monitoring, self-tune their thresholds and help define capacity requirements through projections. Also, newer tools help the application owner to understand their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for existing and future applications – making showback easy. This, in turn, simplifies budgeting and Return On Investment (ROI) calculations.

Taking it one step further, reporting and self-serve portals offer both executives and managers real time insight so they can make the right decisions quickly. Users and consumers alike can view a catalogue on a self-serve portal and order the systems they need to perform their job efficiently.

When your organization can automate formerly repetitive tasks and create system catalogs, IT can start focusing on value-add tasks. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will reap the benefits of being 100% virtualized.

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