Infrastructure virtualisation set for stardom

Data centres will have to change their cultures to make way for the new technology
  • Len Rust (Computerworld)
  • 08 October, 2007 10:21

Infrastructure virtualisation technology is set to become the dominant technology in data centres within the next two to three years, according to a report published by Butler Groups. Butler's analysts put this down to the convergence of three significant factors in the global economy:

  • The need for organisations to reduce energy consumption, which enables them also to reduce their carbon footprint;
  • The importance of the ability to respond to market opportunities faster; and
  • The increased shift towards automation as a means of reducing operational costs.
However, Butler analysts noted that infrastructure virtualisation requires a significant change in an organisation's culture from both an IT and a business perspective; moving away from the siloed business unit autonomy position towards a corporate pooled resource perspective, which has the potential to deliver even more significant savings and increased systems agility than those already quantified.

Above all else, IT infrastructure virtualisation must be recognised as a technology that has evolved at the right time due to the convergence of a number of influencing factors, said Roy Illsley, senior research analyst with Butler Group. As such, it will help organisations address the challenges faced in competing in today's global economy. Understanding what infrastructure virtualisation can deliver, and how it is delivered, is the key to IT departments' successful evolution towards a more efficient model for deploying and consuming IT resources.

Virtualisation as a technology is a step towards the redesign of how IT is delivered and consumed by customers. Butler analysts consider that the transformation of organisations from siloed business units towards a virtual business process-driven architecture is supported by the adoption of infrastructure virtualisation. The key benefits of IT virtualisation can be characterised in the following generic ways:

  • It increases the IT department's ability to be more agile and flexible with the allocation of resources, enabling high priority tasks to be guaranteed the resources needed to meet service level agreements (SLAs).
  • It can reduce operational IT costs and improve the financial return organisations can expect to receive from their IT investments.
  • It improves the quality of service that customers, both internal and external, can expect from IT.
  • It reduces energy consumption, which enables organisations to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • It is a stepping stone towards an adaptive IT infrastructure paradigm, where internal IT capacity is augmented by additional external resources to meet both expected and unexpected peak demands.
The expansion of IT virtualisation technologies has raised its profile within organisations across all industries and business sectors. This new approach extends beyond just thinking about the traditional view of IT virtualisation -- server consolidation. It is increasingly being viewed by CIOs and CEOs as a strategic technology that organisations should consider as a solution to breaking the rigid links between applications, physical hardware, platforms and middleware, and end-users, so that IT is able to meet the demand that business is placing upon it in today's ever-changing world. Many organisations initially adopt IT virtualisation in order to save costs through server consolidation, but then realise that other benefits are possible when operating with a virtualised infrastructure, and so IT virtualisation then becomes a strategic part of the overall IT plan.

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report