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Veering into Virtualization

Phoebe Magdirila | May 15, 2012
With the increasing challenges of maintaining numerous servers, coupled with the high cost of keeping a robust data center, small and medium businesses are now seeking alternative solutions to keep their IT systems and infrastructure less costly while still being efficient, and at a healthy pace against competition.

A company's maturity model dictates how they would run their business, where they will put their data center, and what they really are trying to achieve. Garcia furthers that agility and cost are just some of the primary drivers. "You link that with virtualization, if that's the best way."

An example is Phelps Dodge, who considers virtualization's space-saving ability a bigger factor than the cost. "It saves space, you just get to manage one box and everything is already there," explains Phelps Dodge's Garcia. "Per site, we used to have 6, but we were able to reduce it to 3 because we virtualized."

Meanwhile, The Rosetta Group, having deployed both server virtualization and desktop virtualization, has seen this technology as an enabler for business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities, aside from cutting down cost and saving space. "We can create machines in minutes without having to buy a server," boasts The Rosetta Group President, Greg Martin. "We can even copy an entire Virtual Machine, put it on DVD or disk, and move the server in its entirety to another machine halfway around the world."

These goals that IT departments set for the company are seen by VMware's Batka as a result of the equally evolving role of companies' IT teams. "IT departments stand to become more responsive to the needs of the business." Gone are the days when the IT department is depicted as a mere assistant to operations, they are now "seen as an innovator that is driving new business initiatives."


However, like any technology, virtualization is not without risks. While cost-efficiency is one of the primary advantages of virtualization, some factors may still be overlooked. To further reduce costs, proper cooling should also be maintained.

"When installing virtualized servers, especially of great number, they tend to be installed and grouped in ways that create localized high-density areas that can lead to hot spots," says Schneider Electric Vice President for IT Business, Jean-Francois De Sousa. "Grouping or clustering these bulked up, virtualized servers can result in significantly higher power densities that could then cause cooling problems." To address this, De Sousa advices IT teams to "isolate higher density equipment in a separate location from lower density equipment."

Apart from this challenge, Microsoft's Garcia forewarns IT teams that consolidation into a virtualized environment does not totally assure zero downtime and running it in multiple instances is still crucial. This is the same reason why, Phelps Dodge's Garcia carries hesitations in including their company's database into their virtual machines. "The only fear is, when this one box breaks down, all the virtualized servers inside will be down, too," he says.


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