Virtualization brings flexibility, agility and increased capabilities to enterprise users, but it takes investment. This overview points the way for IT leaders to assess their virtualization needs and present a cohesive business case to decision makers.
Virtualization enhances flexibility and agility by detaching workloads and data from the functional side of physical infrastructure. Possibilities abound for networks, storage, servers and desktops.
Virtualization involves substantial upfront investment, so IT management should understand the total cost of ownership (TCO) and prepare a business case for leadership. This involves an assessment of elements to be virtualized, and an evaluation of physical, transactional and commercial reasons for moving forward. A review of offerings by various vendors, focusing on interoperability and common management, is also key. Enterprises can achieve a 20% to 50% cost savings, while enjoying increased flexibility and speed, and improved quality of service. For example, server virtualization yields a rewarding return on investment (ROI) in servers, power and cooling, data center space, and administration, while enabling administrators to develop business-driven policies for optimizing resources.
The following considerations can help you discern whether and where your organization should implement virtualization projects:
If you’ve only virtualized to consolidate workloads, or virtualized only test/development, then consider benefits such as improved service-level agreements and availability. Convey this to the business.
Review upfront savings and operational aspects, recognizing that goals vary among implementations and technology domains. For example, there are no consolidation savings for desktop virtualization, but there may be for storage and servers.
Identify what not to virtualize. Not every desktop, server or storage array should be virtualized. Understand the goals of the implementation. Some workloads are less virtualization-ready than others.
Do not focus only on virtualized workload management. Identify those workloads that should remain physical, and manage them accordingly.
Virtualization projects require "before and after" comparisons at each phase. Keep a business focus, and implement these steps:
Strategize and Plan: Assess where you can achieve efficiencies through virtualization, and where to rationalize infrastructure and reduce complexity. Integrate an IT-centric model with a business-focused one to make the case for virtual investments; measure related savings.
Architect Solution: Assess elements to be virtualized. Evaluate physical, transactional and commercial reasons for moving forward. Architect the infrastructure to adapt to cloud and other delivery models, planning for rapidly evolving innovation and mixed service delivery.
Select Solution: Balance vendor capabilities and contracts with an eye toward heterogeneity and interoperability. Consider using a mixed approach that allows various levels of service and price points. Compare road maps and contracts across the portfolio.
Build: Initially, drive efforts that lower costs, attaching the project to an ROI target. Manage variables such as timelines, dependencies, resources, setback schedules, teams, steering committees and periodic reviews.
Deploy: Focus on service and service-level improvements. Use a process-based approach that integrates other major Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)/IT management processes. Implement process work as an ongoing, repeatable series of tasks.
Operate and Evolve: Track cost savings and investments and expenses in all areas — beyond vendor costs — to maintain enthusiasm for virtualization. Invest in tools that allow you to measure the effects of virtualization at all phases. Convey costs and savings to the business.
The following documents are foundational research to get started with this initiative: