Virtual appliances, performance management tools, server protection and recovery, WAN optimisation, desktop management and storage are all aspects of a potentially complex technology landscape that datacentre managers need to consider.
Despite strong growth in the use of hypervisors, the majority of applications are still deployed on a physical platform even though virtualisation can deliver savings. This is where we remain today: at phase one.
Over the past 18 months or so, we have seen companies and organisations of all sizes and types extending the scope of their virtualised environments. Organisations are aiming for most applications to be deployed in a virtualised environment to improve utilisation.
The platforms are solid, reliable and, to a degree, future-proof. IT services once the exclusive domain of the enterprise because of their cost are now beginning to be accessible to SMBs.
We are embarking upon phase two. Three years ago, many thought the datacentre would be 80 to 90 per cent virtualised by now. This has not happened. A virtualised platform cannot be deployed in isolation – its management needs to be considered, as does the way in which it fits into the IT environment. The datacentre also needs to be optimised and fully resilient.
In addition, thought needs to go into how cloud computing could affect infrastructure design in the future, as well as the security implications in this new world.
While cost and carbon reduction are hot topics, driven principally by forces outside IT, it is down to IT to deliver these savings. All this must be done while improving performance and the overall user experience.
Finally, consideration must be given to other datacentre-centric services such as the use of server-based computing technologies to deliver applications and desktops, and the impact that this may have on day-to-day operations.
Traditionally, IT departments have used tools provided by the hypervisor vendor to manage their virtual environment, plugging this capability into the various tools that they already use to manage the other components of their infrastructure.
This could have slowed the spread of virtualisation. As I have seen with the likes of Microsoft over the years, no one vendor can provide all the capability needed to deliver complex solutions – making third-party involvement an essential part of the mix.
Resellers should select complementary best-of-breed technologies, and offer a single point of contact for support. Distributors should help resellers add value to these products by providing specialist technical and commercial support. This can also cut the risk and cost of delivering these components.
Dominic Wordsworth is virtualisation product manger at Computerlinks
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