Silicon.com: Virtualisation – Real-life tales of how to get it right

Adoption rates of virtualisation have yet to match the hype surrounding it, here Andrew Donoghue hears from businesses who’ve already taken the plunge.

Despite vendors touting the numerous benefits that virtualisation can bestow on businesses that adopt the technology, there is a flaw in the rhetoric that is hard to get around: not many companies are actually adopting virtualisation.

Figures from analyst Gartner released earlier this year reveal only 16 per cent of current IT workloads are running on virtual machines. Although that estimate is set to grow to some 50 per cent of workloads by 2012, it still paints a picture of the reality of virtualisation being well behind the ‘must-have’ technology image portrayed by vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and VMware.

Zahl Limbuwala, chair of the British Computer Society datacentre specialist group says some of the coolness towards virtualisation is down to the economic downturn making any new IT projects harder to execute. But also, virtualisation technology itself has matured and companies are taking a more strategic approach to it.

“It is generally accepted that there is a positive benefit from virtualisation irrespective of which technology you decide to virtualise with,” he says. “But I think there has been a dampening of enthusiasm around virtualisation and consolidation projects over the last 18 months probably due to a combination of the economic climate and increasing complexity around the technology.”

According to Limbuwala, companies are increasingly realising that successful virtualisation is about more than just tackling a few servers and hoping to save hardware and electricity costs.

“I think there is a little more complexity and detail to it now than people just saying, ‘Let’s just go and call in our favourite virtualisation vendor, buy a set of new blades, install them and we’ll make a 16 to 1 saving on energy costs’,” he says. “I think there is a little bit more thought going into it now and so it takes a little bit more time.”

John Tuccillo, chairman of the board for The Green Grid, a confederation of end-user and vendor organisations focusing on energy efficiency, believes companies have begun to realise that virtualisation isn’t the panacea it was made out to be and are taking a more considered approach.

“I think a lot of people looked on virtualisation as a silver bullet,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, it is a fantastic tool but it’s just one of the tools available. And it’s not an inexpensive exercise to get value from virtualisation.”

For more go to Silicon.com

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