Virtualization works, after strong planning and investment: users

While virtualization might still be high on the hype meter, early adopters praise its benefits and potential, but say enterprise-wide virtualization projects need intense planning, strong commitment and upfront investment.

Business needs to invest more in research and planning, said Craig Searle, technical team leader of industry consultant, Sift.

"There is a bit of hype surrounding virtualization, especially in terms of it being a silver-bullet solution," Searle said.

"But not enough planning is going into enterprise-wide virtualization, particularly in security and management of a virtualized environment."

Today, most organizations are using server virtualization to increase efficiency and utilization and to reduce data centre costs. There is also a lot of interest in using virtualization to support multiple operating systems.

However, uptake is still slow when it comes to using the technology to support a shift to utility computing.

Bartercard CEO Jason Van said his company has used virtualization for administration and testing for about 18 months.

"It's just an emerging technology and it requires a bit of hype so people get to understand it and explore its use; there are definitely some good niches for it in the marketplace," Van said.

"I'd like to see what comes out of the development of [Microsoft] Office online and Google products online, [because] everyone is swinging towards online models which will have an affect on whether virtualization at the desktop will pick up."

Graham Williams, IT manager for education resource developer Curriculum Corporation, said his company is set to undergo a large, server-based virtualization project, but warned organizations need to undertake careful evaluations first and to develop realistic expectations.

"I think [virtualization's suitability] is horses for courses, but it offers the potential for better service and large savings," Williams said.

"However, be prepared to spend money and resources in order to get returns.

"Investment costs depend on what infrastructure you select; you can do it cheap and nasty, but you'll probably get a cheap and nasty result."

Williams said his biggest problem is that the organization has legacy Web sites supported by legacy operating systems.

"So for us to change that we need an entire re-write as they are built on sloppy design and based on drivers that don't exist," he said.

"Deployment is a big issue for us, because we can win a project today and tomorrow we start coding; virtualization will help us provision equipment quickly."

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