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Does Virtualization Have a Downside?

Created: 28 Sep 2011 • Updated: 22 Dec 2011
tzambrovitz's picture
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Maybe somebody can explain it to me, because I’m not getting a clear picture of late from the numerous virtualization events I’ve attended. I’ve read the research, I’ve interviewed architects, systems administrators, consultants and even a few IT execs, and I’ve reviewed information from various vendors on the challenges and solutions around virtualization. So, is complacency the new IT strategy for business-critical virtualization? 

At a recent event that shall remain anonymous, I asked a few of the attendees at lunch what challenges they were facing as they virtualized their infrastructure. One immediate response was “budget”. Now, I understand that there are investments to be made in acquiring the infrastructure and software, and the time it takes to define and resource a project. But, in the face of reducing server provisioning from weeks to minutes, recovering failed systems in seconds and minutes instead of hours and days, lowering power consumption and data center space requirements and enabling new business initiatives at the speed of “click and drag” – how can budget be the biggest challenge?

I then asked about more specific things like, how are you securing the virtual servers you bring online? How do you gain visibility to rogue or non-compliant VMs being introduced? How do you maintain backup levels when VMs move around and what are you experiencing around increases in storage demands? And what about maintaining high availability of critical applications? Someone responded by saying that they mostly secure virtual servers the same way they do physical. He also said that they use Symantec Netbackup, and the introduction of virtual machines had no impact on that part of their operation. OK, I gave the guy a free pass on that one! But another also said that they were experiencing increases in storage utilization and that they’ve basically just increased capacity to meet demand – as needed. I’d love to be the storage vendor sales guy for that company!

So, my sense is that some of the issues are being identified and addressed, but every bit of research shows broader and accelerated adoption of virtualization.  And it further validates the fact that virtualization of the infrastructure is a key milestone to delivering Cloud-based services, both private and public. 

My question is, what are the changes that most organizations experience when moving from physical to virtual? What’s different? What’s keeping you from accelerating along the adoption curve to virtualizing even the most critical systems and applications? Security needs to be extended, but there are new considerations around security and compliance for virtual systems, aren’t there? Storage is cheaper than it’s ever been, but are you giving back more in escalating storage costs than you get from virtualizing in the first place? It’s ten times easier to recover a virtual system, but what about the applications on that system? I know there is more to this than I’m getting from my recent travels. But my sense is that there is not enough problem solving going on. What do you think? To see how Symantec software can help you overcome some of the problems of implementing virtualization, click here.