Taking the virtual leap

We’ve all heard about how virtualization is changing the world of IT, but are companies in the Middle East actually embracing the technology?

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By  Vineetha Menon Published  December 26, 2008

We’ve all heard about how virtualization is changing the world of IT, but are companies in the Middle East actually embracing the technology?

We speak to Andy Parkinson, Middle East & North Africa System x sales leader at IBM Systems & Technology Group, to gain some insight on the uptake of virtualization solutions locally.

Virtualization seems to be a buzzword at the moment but, in your opinion, are many organizations in the Middle East actually adopting it in their business IT strategy?

Many of our key accounts across all sectors have successfully adopted virtualization in the last two or three years, and we are working very closely with vendors such as VMWare to further increase this number.

In fact the majority of customers I talk to have either adopted it in their business IT strategy, are in the middle of a proof of concept, or at least plan to introduce it within the next one or two years.

While server virtualization seems to be more widely understood and accepted, how are network and storage virtualization solutions faring in this region?

The adoption of network and storage virtualization solutions is increasing across the Gulf. As part of our blade solution we have been very successful with IBM BladeCenter Open Fabric Manager which is designed to manage I/O and network interconnects for up to 100 BladeCenter chassis - up to 1400 blade servers.

There is also an optional upgrade which provides a stand-alone utility to enable workload virtualization allowing customers to define action plans that can automatically execute based on customer-defined trigger events. If the trigger event occurs, a blade in the predefined pool will automatically receive I/O parameters and take over for the original blade.

For storage virtualization, many of our key accounts are using IBM System Storage SAN Volume controller (SVC) which allows users to combine storage capacity from multiple disk systems into a reservoir of capacity that can be better managed as a business resource and not as separate boxes

Do you think hesitation to adopt virtualization stems from the fact that companies don’t know which solution will be the right ‘fit’ for them?

I would tend to disagree, from the conversations I have had with customers I think if there is hesitation, it is about how well the different virtualization solutions are understood and the benefits they can bring rather than what solution is the right fit.

What are your predictions for the market over next five years?

In the changing economic climate datacenter optimisation will be critical in the coming years.

The ability to drive a new level of datacenter economics, not just incremental improvements in savings or cost reductions - but dramatic improvements, brought about through the adoption of virtualization with optimized systems and networks across all systems resources will be key to success and will drive the market.

Along with virtualization adoption, green IT, the ability to rapidly deploy services, and the adoption of evolving technologies such as cloud computing and web 2.0 will also be critical success factors

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