Virtualization winning converts amid lingering doubts

Virtualization, virtualization, virtualization: it’s the IT buzzword. And if vendor marketing campaigns are to be believed enterprises should all be scrambling for a piece of the action

As a follow-up to the joint Computerworld-Hydrasight survey in June 2007, Computerworld, in conjunction with HP, held a round table discussion forum with 15 IT leaders on virtualization to talk about how the technology can be successfully applied and what challenges it is yet to overcome.

Going virtual? Either way, you're not alone

The joint Computerworld-Hydrasight survey revealed a split in the uptake of virtualization in the enterprise. Some 33 percent of respondents said their organization is using virtualization on production servers, 36 percent are not, and about 17 percent are testing the water. Interestingly, 13 percent didn't know either way.

Those numbers were indicative of the uptake of virtualization among the delegates. Some reported the near-immediate success of consolidation projects, while others are still in the assessment, planning and testing phases.

One IT director at a US-based multinational said the company's global CIO issued a directive to take 2000 servers and make them 500 so "virtualization will be a big thing on our radar next year".

Quick wins

Beyond the hype, many organizations are racking up some nice consolidation and efficiency achievements by going virtual.

Penrith City Council CIO Chris Gardner said going down the virtualization path has resulted in getting 14 servers down to just two.

"We had to get new skills in at the start, but it's definitely not a huge barrier," Gardner said. "We've done 14 into 2 and the cost of the one large server is 2.5 to 3 times a single server, but we were replacing the 14 servers this year so it was part of the planned cycle."

Gardner said going virtual is less of an impediment than when the organization decided to go with a SAN environment for storage.

Jo Perricone, IT manager at the Spastic Centre of NSW, has seen his organization go from 40 servers to 13 servers through application consolidation and now believes it is possible to go down to as few as three with virtualization.

"It's not just about consolidation," Perricone said. "It's about what value can you put into the server environment and how can you improve DR and test environments."

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