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IT Industry Trends

The Evolution of IT as It Moves to the Cloud

Created: 10 Jun 2011 • Updated: 03 Jun 2014 • 2 comments
John Magee's picture
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Technologies such as virtualization and cloud computing offer the potential to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency – benefits organizations can’t afford to ignore. The shift to a cloud-based IT infrastructure is a goal for many, with 75 percent of enterprises at least discussing the implementation of these technologies. Whether you are just beginning to implement virtualization and private cloud computing or are already in the process, here are a few recommendations to give you the smoothest transition possible, based on the results of our 2011 Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey.
Keep expectations realistic. Because virtualization and cloud computing are still maturing, it can be a challenge to set appropriate goals. The survey revealed that there is often a gap between what an organization expects before implementation and the end result. In the area of desktop virtualization, for example, 82 percent of organizations expected that it would be easier and faster to deploy new endpoints. Following implementation, however, only 55 percent had actually realized that goal. This shows that there is still a lack of understanding regarding the capabilities of virtualization solutions, underscoring the importance of researching the proposed solution to understand its capabilities.
Make the most of current infrastructure.
There are steps you can take to improve the efficiency of your current resources, which will then allow you to see what will benefit the most from modernization. Creating pooled resources by virtualizing static servers, storage and networking gives you a solid architectural foundation, but it is just as important to modernize and automate operational processes for things like self-serve provisioning, disaster recovery, security and compliance, and storage management.
Extend and leverage your existing infrastructure.  With every major architectural era IT organizations are faced with a choice between rip-and-replace vs. building and extending existing infrastructure.  The comprehensive nature of cloud and virtualization technologies means that keeping them isolated will hobble their potential or cause them to fail altogether. Organizations having the most success with virtualization and private cloud initiatives tend to be those who are mainstreaming them and building on existing infrastructure and processes, rather than setting up silo’d initiatives.
Keep everyone on the same page. The survey showed that business executives such as the CEO and CFO are the most likely to express concerns over the adoption of cloud and virtualization, particularly when it comes to business-critical apps. In addition the overcoming technical hurdles for quality of service issues such as security, compliance, performance and project success also requires socializing and educating management on what is possible with these new technologies and the service-level and cost savings benefits they can provide.  Be sure to involve not only your IT teams in planning and deployment, but line of business executives and upper management as well.  By following a carefully laid out strategy, you can make the transition to the cloud as smooth as possible.

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tzambrovitz's picture

I’ve read the research, I’ve interviewed architects, systems administrators, consultants and even a few IT execs and I’ve reviewed various vendor information on the challenges and solutions around virtualization.  Is complacency the new IT strategy for business critical virtualization?  I sense a gap between research and reality.

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 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 specific things like how are you securing 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?  Another responded by saying that they mostly secure virtual servers that same way they do physical.  And, that they use Symantec Netbackup and the introduction of virtual machines had no impact on that part of their operation.  Ok, I gave that guy a hall 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 that virtualization of the infrastructure is a key milestone to deliver 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 even though the solutions are pretty much there.  What do you think? 

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Geraldine's picture

I read much about the research, there are many interviews with people who devoted their lives to investigation of this issue I came across on files search . I only wanted to underline the thing that organizations investing in virtualization and hybrid/private cloud technologies tend to follow a similar path, starting by virtualizing less critical applications such as test and development environments and progressing to more important applications such as email and collaboration; line of business; eCommerce and supply chain; and ERP/CRM. That is what I really appreciate about it.

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