Often times we hear from our customers, about how they are approaching virtualization. Most of the people I talk to are somewhat virtualized, and often times, from an IT perspective they consider themselves to be fully or at least mostly virtualized. We have learned to ask, what does fully virtualized mean to you? This is the million dollar question. The typical response is something about everything that can be virtualized is virtualized. This is the question I would like to explore.
To lay the groundwork for this, there are about 5 common phases of virtualization.
Phase 1 is typically just setting up some test servers and virtualizing them with local storage using free software. This is the introductory phase.
Phase 2 typically involves moving the development or test environments, depending on the companies line of business, but these are non-IT test servers typically.
Once IT gets comfortable with this phase they are then ready to move on to Phase 3. This typically involves virtualizing the things IT has complete control over, domain controllers, maintenance and monitoring servers, and sometimes even email.
This is one of the most common places for what we have begun to term virtual stall. Getting the business to trust virtualization is typically a challenge. The concept sounds good, but the risks seem high. This is where it takes a good consultant to help bridge the gap between the technical team and the business units.
Phase 4 typically is where we begin to move business critical applications. This is where VMware on the VNX really begins to shine. While I really like competitive products, Netapp’s FAS line, Hitachi’s AMS, and some of the others, EMC has really helped us out here with not only by finally introducing unified storage, but by giving us the option for storage tiering and additional caching options. I plan to go into more details on this in a future post, but suffice it to say this is an incredible benefit for virtualizing mission critical high resource demanding apps.
Finally, the holy grail of virtualization. Phase 5 is IT-As-A-Service enables end users to generate their own servers through a simple web interface such as vCloud DIrector, or similar software. This is really where we want to get so IT can get back to playing World of Warcraft, or doing more behind the scenes work rather than always focusing on processing user requests.
This is a brief overview of the VMware/EMC “Journey to the Cloud”, but this is important for us to understand. Virtual Stall is a real problem, and should be addressed to prevent wasted money and resources. As budgets shrink, EMC and VMware continue to give us new and innovative solutions to make our business more agile.