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Virtualization: Can you really make business sense out of it?

No, the original title of the post, which I will link you too was, "Everyone is doing it, few know how". But it really touches the core of this issue and actually, just the tip of it.

This exactly prompted me to write the Multi-part series: "Virtualization: Shi(f)t happens!" Setting it all up and running it is piece of cake, today VMware has done it, tomorrow Citrix's offerings will have those cool windows GUI, with all the weird "Ok" buttons which is still not OK but we are not discussing that here, that will make the windows admins happy! c'mon we all know, it is those IT managers we all want to appease, it is those system admins, who we want to help "try this" technology.

But there is more to it thn just installing it and running it. We just did a quick POC of our test environment, pretty quick! 3 days and the whole test environment was virtualized. Am I happy with it? Far from it! In many ways Virtualization is seen by many as the blades solutions that we tried a couple of years ago, I think we gave a try ourselves 3 years ago. After a lot of resistance, and god only knows why the nay-sayers resisted anyways, we pumped all the loosely connected PCs and Servers (read all servers!), into the blades. We documented it! We laid a great foundation and 3 months after it was done, no one really looked that way.

Why? People, somehow tend to believe, that a "solution" in itself is the answer to the problems", current problems, yes but not future planning! That is where, most of the virtualization installations will fail, and most of them will be SMEs. It is just a fact of life, SMEs can not come up to that level of "enterprise maturity" that this virtualization is capable of addressing. Capable, yes but it is also an opportunity for other competitors to "show the better way" with their "better stuff"

But anyways, it is true, you may be doing it, but you may be just scratching the surface.

There's no question in Perry's mind that server virtualization has become a critical IT component. "Hardware right now is so underutilized," he said. "To carve out spaces for virtual machines is the wave of the future."

IT professionals can certainly train themselves to work with virtualization software, VMworld attendees said. Some added that it helps to have acquired a broad base of data center skills beforehand.

Minneapolis-based Jostens, which makes class rings, yearbooks and other products, is a VMware user. "In the old days, you really just needed to understand the server," said Kirk Marty, a senior systems engineer at Jostens. "Now you have to understand not just the server, but also the command lines of the Linux operating system, networking, how switches work, storage and fiber connections."

Carter & Burgess in Fort Worth, Texas, decided to adopt virtualization technology about six months ago to improve its disaster recovery capabilities. After the decision was made, Michael Youngers, a lead systems administrator fat the engineering and consulting firm, taught himself how to use the software. "I stumbled into it," Youngers said.

After seeing how virtualization has led to server consolidation, the removal of old hardware, and lower power and cooling costs at Carter & Burgess, Youngers is convinced that it has become a technology that IT workers need to know. "You are going to have to get on board," he said.


I will detail out in my next "Shi(f)t happens" what might be an admins strategy to get to do more with it.

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