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July 21, 2014

The second phase of virtualisation

Virtualisation

Today, server virtualisation has almost become a de facto commodity that businesses are utilising in their IT infrastructure. Even so, one of the common concerns is how it can become “invisible”, where a business can find itself running multiple systems without knowing exactly what each is doing or whether they are actually required for the business.

Therefore, the next step or second phase in virtualisation is controlling what is taking place in the Virtual environment, and understanding why it is happening; i.e. ensuring that virtualisation becomes more “visible”.

In order to shift to this second phase, organisations will need to review the controls of how new workloads get deployed and ensure that the infrastructure is correctly monitored. Part of this process requires producing a reporting structure, such as a dashboard, which provides a quick synopsis of what is happening in each environment. While all of the vendors are including advanced monitoring tools with their virtualisation solutions, most of these tools don’t get implemented correctly. Therefore, clients don’t get the value proposition and/or the operational understanding to make sense of what the tools are reporting.

The second step would be to implement controls of how systems are deployed, whether via the old methods of spreadsheets and configuration files (which may not be feasible in the long run), or by employing a proper automation tool, which although more expensive in the short term is indispensable in the long term.

Adapting to this second phase almost always results in cost-savings for organisations. For example, a business can utilise a full-time monitoring and reporting engine to analyse and right-size the environment; this could allow for better usage of the infrastructure and its resources over a period of time.

Obviously, there is an initial expense of implementing the product and of making the required operational changes, but as we’ve seen with the majority of our clients, these initial costs are well below the return on investment they receive, once the visibility of their environment is realised.

Virtualisation is a key element of today’s IT infrastructure which makes it all the more important to have a clear view of how it is being used, otherwise, virtualisation becomes just another techy tool: nice to have, but not adding the sort of value to the business it has the potential to.

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