Virtualisation innovation

The Middle East region is still somewhat behind Europe and the US when it comes to virtualisation adoption, according to regional virtualisation experts

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Virtualisation innovation In the virtualisation sphere a lot of companies have realised that virtualisation is not an easy process and it can take months to years to actually implement and virtualise a data centre.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  December 10, 2012

The Middle East region is still somewhat behind Europe and the US when it comes to virtualisation adoption, according to regional virtualisation experts.

Virtualisation, the first step along the road to cloud adoption, is still in the early stages of adoption in the Middle East region, and while the majority of large organisations do have a percentage of their infrastructure virtualised, it tends to be in the 20% to 30% range in the majority of verticals. Banking and oil and gas are the two sectors that have much higher virtualisation rates, with regional virtualisation experts estimating that in this sector the adoption rate is 80% to 90%.

“Many organisations consider virtualisation as the first step towards the cloud. Enterprises have already adopted virtualisation in some form although the degree of deployment varies. Key technology drivers such as virtualisation have been surfacing as a result of the increased pressure on IT departments to reduce costs after the financial turmoil as well as delivering a more scalable and agile IT systems  and improving ROI. Virtualisation is also helping to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery as part of regulatory/compliance requirements,” says Vikraman Pandinharekkara, enterprise portfolio director, Injazat Data Systems.

The regional market is already well aware of the benefits of server virtualisation, such as automatic fail over, dynamic relocation, load balancing and image-based deployment. Virtualisation has become the standard deployment medium for new enterprise applications and business-critical applications. This is a significant shift from the earlier mindset of adopting virtualisation only for non-business critical applications, and the test and development environment.

According to Injazat, analysts say that virtualisation will change the IT landscape from the purchasing, management and deployment perspectives. There are more vendors contributing to the market and more eco-systems are being formed to address the virtualisation requirement in totality.

As this trend continues, virtualisation will become more common in the storage and application space.

“With the growing trend in mobility, social media, big data and analytics, organisations are looking for an effective and efficient way to better control their information and data.   We are also seeing some trends at the end-user level around delivering corporate services effectively through the use of technology such as virtualisation and cloud,” states Pandinharekkara.

One of the key drivers for virtualisation uptake is big data and the fact that many companies are running our of storage space in their data centres.

By implementing virtualisation, companies can better utilise their infrastructure and reduce hardware and storage costs. Many companies begin the virtualisation journey by virtualising the servers that are easy to virtualise  and the IT controlled assets so that they can have complete control over those virtualised servers and manage their own risks.

“Both in and outside the region, most customers and most organisations first virtualise the IT owned assets, the servers that are within their control because they can own the risk and control the outcomes. They don’t have to involve business application owners. Once they do this they become comfortable with virtualisation and gain the confidence to take the virtualisation approach to other applications,” explains Travers Nicholas, vSpecialist manager (Turkey, Emerging Africa, Middle East), EMC Corporation.

According to George De Bono, general manager Middle East, Turkey & Africa for Red Hat the Linux and Unix spaces are starting to become virtualised much more aggressively. One trend that Red Hat is seeing in the virtualisation space is a slow down in hardware refresh as companies better utilise their existing infrastructure.

Virtualisation innovations:

Virtualisation is a very hot area for innovation as companies recognise that it is a must-have technology if they want to reduce costs and improve efficiency, and vendors are working hard to develop more efficient and easier-to-implement technologies to make the virtualisation journey faster and less complex.

“For every dollar someone spends on their virtualisation software, they are spending another $5 or $6 on the components around it, that could mean management software, servers, networking or storage, but basically to create a full solution, virtualisation is a small part of it. The industries leading vendors have realised that this is where customers want us to innovate,” states Nicholas.

Automation:

The first step of virtualisation is to consolidate multiple physical servers onto one or more physical servers, so the enterprise will have a reduction in server count. This server count reduction is an easy thing to justify as it gives enterprises a huge cost benefit as they do not have to buy as many servers.

Once enterprises have turned their physical server device into software, they have enabled themselves to have new levels of agility, allowing them to move that virtual machine from one physical host to another, using software. This means is that you can layer automation technologies on top of VMware that will allow you to do thing like automatically provision new applications.

“Some of our customers use this automation software to allow them to have a web server farm and, for example, if once a month they have a high volume of traffic, they can provision new servers to back up the existing hardware infrastructure during the time they need it. Then  when they no longer require it, they can decommission it and reuse that infrastructure in other areas for the rest of the week,” explains Nicholas.

The American Idol show is a good example of this. Once a week there is public voting, meaning that their servers get incredible busy at that one time, and for the rest of the week they are not busy at all. Other areas of automation innovation include automation of tiering of information.

“We integrate flash devices into servers so that you can have a virtual machine running on very, very high flash based storage inside the server and have the software automatically tier the information between the flash card and the server. The flash device is in the array and the hard drive device in in the array and this type of innovation, what this does is allows you to run three or four times the amount of transactions on a database,” states Basil Ayass, enterprise product manager, Dell Middle East.

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