Is virtualization driving business and IT apart?

Virtualization has charted a new course for IT, but it may have stranded the business side of your organization.

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As virtualization has emerged, the gap between IT and business operations may have actually widened.

When it comes to virtualization’s value and return on investment (ROI),  some doubters remain. But most people have accepted that there is value in virtualization. Still, getting a virtual infrastructure up and running and dealing with its challenges -- such as VM sprawl and VM stall -- takes time.

Virtualization introduces new features in networking, storage, security, resource management and more. It changes how you build a machine and how you deploy applications. And it has redefined the core concepts of high availability and clustering.

That is a lot of change to incorporate into your standard processes and procedures. When you think of the size of the boat that IT infrastructure has become, it is no mystery that this change in course could not happen overnight. But as we took this new course, did we all remember to bring the business side of the house along for the ride?

Development strategies, for example, can greatly benefit from virtualization, if developers are trained to use virtual development environments. The benefits of virtualization can apply to many other areas, including:

Change management: Snapshots and live-migration technologies reduce the risks of making changes to your servers and applications, and they make it easy to basically undo these changes if problems occur.

Procurement: Business units have traditionally bought one device to host one service, but many now use the virtualization model -- buying one device to host multiple services. This change makes it even more important to properly manage and forecast resource usage in the data center. And these forecasts will affect your procurement methodologies.

Organizational structure: Virtualization mixes a number of technology disciplines that have been traditionally organized and managed separately. For example, a significant portion of the network now lives inside the hypervisor, which also drives storage usage and even storage tiering. And virtualization also makes OS management more efficient. These are all potential benefits, but the organization must be aligned in a manner that allows for the sharing of information and coordination of efforts between different groups. In fact, virtualization may change the organizational structure of these groups.

Business decision-makers in your organization can negatively affect your virtualization efforts if they don’t understand these benefits. Virtualization has matured so much in the past few years, and it may be time for a second round of education on what virtualization is today, and how it affects your organization.

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/.

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