Several years ago, when I first implemented virtualization in an enterprise data center, this question came up in almost every conversation: "Won't virtualization lead to layoffs?" It was based mostly on fear of the unknown, but virtualization was so new that there was no more evidence to alleviate these fears than there was to substantiate them. If you can truly do more with less, the thinking went, then it only makes sense that you will need fewer people.
All these years later, I see more jobs be created by virtualization than taken away. Because it's so efficient, virtualization frees up space for more projects to be approved, which generates more work.
What will IT look like as virtualization and cloud transform the data center?
But there are still pockets of resistance in today's organizations, hiding deep in silos that house dedicated pools of narrow skill sets. With the maturation of virtualization and the emergence of cloud computing, the walls that have separated data center disciplines continue to come down. Some administrators feel threatened, and they are digging in for a turf war.
The hypervisor is no longer just a means to consolidate multiple operating systems on a single physical server. It is the new hub of the data center. A large percentage of your network now resides in virtual switches, and security has to follow the data. OSes no longer live on local hard drives, but on disk arrays once reserved for large databases and clustered servers. The network has moved, the security landscape has become somewhat opaque and the role of the SAN has evolved. Is your organization keeping up?
What will IT organizations look like as virtualization and cloud computing continue to transform the data center? You will always need the network specialist, the security guru and server administrator, but the architecture of these environments -- dynamic data centers, private clouds and hybrid clouds -- will require a new skill set that combines networking, security and server expertise. Breadth of knowledge, not depth of knowledge, will be a hot commodity in your talent pool. The big picture will be the only picture.
Silos, turf wars and the old way of doing things can misalign resources and stall your virtualization efforts, pitting core infrastructure technologies against each other -- instead of using them in tandem to support a common infrastructure.
About the expert
Mark Vaughn (MBA, VCP, vExpert, BEA-CA) is a consulting principal for data center virtualization with INX, a Houston-based solutions provider. Vaughn has more than 14 years of experience in IT as a Unix administrator, developer, Web hosting administrator, IT manager and enterprise architect. For several years he has focused on using the benefits of virtualization to consolidate data centers, reduce total cost of ownership, and implement policies for high availability and disaster recovery. Vaughn is a recipient of the vExpert award for both 2009 and 2010, and he has delivered several presentations at VMworld and BEAWorld conferences in the U.S. and Europe. Read his blog at http://blog.mvaughn.us/.