Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Jul 25 2011   9:57AM GMT

Four server virtualization deployment challenges to watch out for

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

I have so far talked about virtualization and possible benefits that arise from deploying it in our organizations. I have also spoken on this subject at various seminars and have been in conversations with my professional colleagues from various companies. However, to my finding, virtualization doesn’t take shape in many of the organizations and its introduction remains a challenge. Let us examine a few such cases.

  • Insufficient understanding

Large organizations are usually aware of this solution, but I wish to refer to a host of small and medium organizations who remain untouched by this technology. I have met and discussed this subject with quite a few IT heads from these companies and find that though they have heard about this subject and understood a little bit, they still do not know enough to recommend and use it in their set-up. They take the safer route of adding a few more servers to take care of extra load and this is easy since it involves an incremental investment. It is best for such firms to retain an advisor who can help the management with a long term technology plan.

  • Replacing old servers

The story at some of the larger companies is a bit different. Here we have IT Heads who are better informed and well aware of the subject through interaction with various users and vendors in seminars that they attend. However, they hold themselves back not knowing what to do with existing servers. They say that they need only say two servers and cannot do away with other servers they have and hence cannot invest in something much bigger.

I have often asked them when would a time come when they would have to replace all servers so that they can opt for virtualization; for they will always have servers of different vintage. I could persuade a couple of such organizations to start virtualization with new applications and move the older ones as and when the old servers age and get due for replacement. These organizations now look back and say clearly that they took the right decision.

  • Not selecting the right implementation partner

Some CIOs do get carried away pinning confidence in the capabilities of the internal team, thus, trying to do most of the tasks themselves. At other times the selection of the implementation partner is faulty and they appoint one who quotes lesser. This leads to an avoidable problem resulting in a failed implementation or a sub-optimal solution delivery. One needs to realize that the technology is complex and needs to be implemented well to derive clear benefits.

  • Extracting full benefits of the technology

Implementation of virtualization requires adequate planning with proper allocation of server resources to various applications in a manner that allows an optimum use of resources and at the same ensuring a good performance for all jobs being run. People are often satisfied with some level of partitioning of the processor pool whereas more can be achieved. The technology also provides a good number of features which lets us extract more out the boxes we possess. For example I know of many an organization who do not use features like cloning, dynamic allocation of processor pool, resource management tools, mirroring of applications enabling fall back in case of failure of a processor, disaster recovery planning etc. A vanilla implementation therefore gives us benefits but only as much and no more.

I will conclude with my opinion that this technology is immensely useful and it is for us to make full use of its features to extract maximum benefits.

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