Virtualization Key Initiative Overview

Archived Published: 14 June 2013 ID: G00252080

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Many enterprises are currently planning to virtualize their systems to enhance flexibility and achieve significant ROI, while others are already doing so. CIOs and IT leaders can use this overview to understand what they need to prepare for the Virtualization Key Initiative.


Figure 1. Virtualization Key Initiative Overview
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (June 2013)

Virtualization detaches workloads and data from the functional side of service provision and/or physical infrastructure, enabling unprecedented flexibility and agility for storage, servers and desktops.

Virtualization helps enable initiatives that modernize desktops, servers and storage. It can also help deliver application consolidation and extend to cloud-based options inside or outside the organization. Virtualization extends to a majority of application projects, and clients want to know if they should virtualize around one vendor or multiple vendors. This Key Initiative helps organizations choose vendors to negotiate the right deal.

Virtualization requires significant upfront investment, and IT leaders need to understand total cost of ownership (TCO) and prepare a business case for leadership. Technical professionals should support IT leaders with a hands-on approach toward implementation.

Our research helps organizations understand how virtualization can achieve an average savings of 20% to 50% on servers and data center power, space and administration. Organizations must create a road map to navigate the virtualization life cycle.

Consider These Factors to Determine Your Readiness

What Virtualization Means to CIOs

Virtualization adoption requires planning, management and investment to see improved flexibility, speed and quality of service. To ensure a successful virtualization experience, CIOs should:

  • Understand benefits. Benefits include improved service-level agreements (SLAs), availability and cost-efficiency with associated investments.

  • Determine operational aspects. Goals vary among implementations and technology domains. For example, there may be few consolidation savings for desktop virtualization, but there may be many for storage and servers.

  • Set goals. Identify workloads that should be virtualized and those that should remain physical, and manage them accordingly. Then, look at high availability (HA) workloads, in which SLAs can be improved with virtualization, through live migration and site recovery functions.

  • Study vendors and products. Determine what technologies you need to enhance productivity and achieve a cost savings, and which vendor aligns with your virtualization goals.

What Virtualization Means to IT Leaders

IT leaders can save enterprises 20% to 50% with virtualization projects, providing increased flexibility and speed, and improved quality of service. Before implementing virtualization projects:

  • Factor in benefits, such as improved SLAs and availability, as you virtualize to consolidate workloads or for test and development. 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 some for storage and servers.

  • Discern which systems to virtualize. Not every desktop, server or storage array is a candidate. Understand the CIO's goals. Some workloads are less virtualization-ready than others.

  • Double your efforts. About 55% to 60% of server loads are virtualized. Attain the benefits of more virtualization. Be cautious about virtualizing more than 80% of servers, as costs and issues increase.

What Virtualization Means to Technology Professionals

Server and client virtualization are core infrastructure technologies that can be costly and highly disruptive to replace. Discern where your organization should implement virtualization projects by:

  • Reviewing upfront savings and operational issues that will result from virtualization, recognizing that goals vary among implementations and technology domains (Virtualization is not just for consolidating workloads. It's also key to supporting business and IT agility, improved service levels and availability.)

  • Planning to move away from device-centric application delivery to user-centric application delivery

  • Virtualizing production workloads and building the foundation for user self-service and IT process automation (that is, virtual machine, application and service delivery)

  • Optimizing the virtual infrastructure for performance, multitenancy and cloud mobility

Conduct Your Virtualization Initiative Using This Structured Approach

Gartner recommends following these major phases to execute a Virtualization Key Initiative (these phases may vary, depending on the organization's maturity):

  • Strategize and Plan: Assess how you can achieve efficiencies through virtualization, and where to virtualize to reduce complexity. Integrate an IT-centric model with a business-focused one to make the case for virtual investments and measure ROI.

  • Architect Solution: Pinpoint where in the network to virtualize. Evaluate physical, transactional and commercial reasons. Architect the infrastructure to adapt to cloud and other delivery models, planning for evolving innovation and mixed-service delivery.

  • Select Solution: Balance vendor capabilities and contracts with an eye toward interoperability. Use a mixed approach that allows various levels of service and price points. Compare road maps and contracts across the portfolio.

  • Build: Drive efforts that lower costs and attach 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 ITIL/IT management processes. Implement process work as an ongoing, repeatable series of tasks.

  • Operate and Evolve: Track cost savings, investments and expenses — beyond vendor costs — to maintain enthusiasm for virtualization. Invest in tools that allow you to measure the effects of virtualization. Convey costs and savings to the business.

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