Virtualisation’s value

The transformation of datacentres is having a huge impact on the cost benefits that virtualisation technology can deliver, argues Oracle’s Gerhard Schlabschi.

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Virtualisation’s value
By  Gerhard Schlabschi Published  October 11, 2011

The transformation of datacentres is having a huge impact on the cost benefits that virtualisation technology can deliver, argues Oracle’s Gerhard Schlabschi.

It needs are evolving rapidly as datacentres transform into service centres that deliver applications on demand and respond to changing customer requirements with speed and agility. With users demanding access to applications and services 24x7, service-level agreements have become stringent. In addition, cloud computing is gaining in popularity and taking a foothold in datacentres, reflecting user needs to get services at any time.

Things simply must work together, and happen faster, in order to satisfy an increasing appetite for information and services. Users are less accepting of traditional build it yourself philosophies, with many now demanding resources just in time. As a result, there is a need for greater optimisation and efficiency in how software and solutions that power datacentres are deployed and managed. These trends are pushing IT departments to find better ways to integrate, provision, deploy, and manage systems at a faster pace without straining already burdened budgets.

Virtualisation is a key technology used in datacentres to optimise resources.  Many companies believe they have virtualisation all sewn up but is this really the case?  While virtualisation has been around for many years, most businesses have only just begun to touch the surface of the savings can be made from virtualisation.

Many companies have focused on sever, and specifically x86, virtualisation but is this really the issue that is keeping CIOs awake at night?  CIOs need to take a holistic view of the data centre so while fixing x86 utilisation is important it doesn’t take into account the rest of an organisations infrastructure. Indeed, virtualisation at the server and operating system level no longer is sufficient.  With users looking for a cloud experience, simply provisioning and delivering an operating environment falls short.

The truth is that while virtualisation helps with utilisation, it also adds complexity.  As complexity is the biggest hurdle to IT efficiency and a move to cloud computing so businesses need to ensure seamless integration into datacentre management from applications to disk when considering virtualisation.

When you look at all the virtualisation technologies available from x86 to Unix to storage to desktop it is easy to see why this complexity exists.  Without an integrated solution and an overarching open management system an organisation that virtualises its infrastructure can find itself with silos of virtualised systems with siloed management.  Virtualisation needs to be completely integrated in the technology it supports to really deliver on expectations and facilitate cloud computing.

The first wave of virtualisation focused on consolidating under-utilised resources to lower energy costs, reduce the data centre footprint, save on equipment, and build standard operating system images to provision new systems faster. While server virtualisation succeeded at standardising and automating operating system builds, it remained focused on the operating system layer. It led to the efficient provisioning of physical servers through the use of virtual machines — yet lacked integration with applications and other software running in virtual environments. Virtualisation impacts almost every aspect of the datacentre infrastructure so businesses need to consider how easy it is to integrate with the existing infrastructure.

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