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July 2, 2009

Virtualisation needs break through ‘glass ceiling’

Operational issues could hamper future uptake

By CBR Staff Writer

Enterprises could be hitting a glass ceiling in their virtualisation initiatives according to an industry insider, slowing take up of the technology and limiting its return on investment.

“We estimate that only 15% may be up to 20% of workloads that could be virtualised have so far been virtualised,” Derek Slayton a senior director at Citrix told us. “There are various operational issues that are helping create some barriers to adoption, which is stalling the continued progress of virtualisation for some organisations.”

The challenge of integrating a new virtualised environment with the existing regime that is used to manage the existing physical infrastructure is one of the key issues, he suggested. 

“Virtual machine sprawl has become an issue for some. Storage management has been a particular stumbling block, that’s also created barriers in the past.”

Security is another issue. According to Gartner, 60% of virtual machines will be less secure than their physical counterparts. And analysts fear that misconfigured and mismanaged virtual implementations will result in service interruptions and downtime that will undermine confidence in the technology and potentially stall wholesale adoption.

It is said that developers have traditionally driven virtualisation adoption, but it is down to systems administrators to manage and control the cost of operating VMs. “Organisations need facilities for setting VM policy that sets limits on the creation and use of VMs, and controls and manages them throughout the lifecycle,” Slayton said.

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Virtualisation may not yet have reached its full potential, but there are a couple of drivers that will see its adoption continue, albeit at a conservative pace. 

Research has shown perhaps only 15% of applications being run on virtual infrastructures are production systems – the majority of organisations are using the technology only in test environments. But analysts believe that the number of production applications will grow to between 45% and 60% of total deployments over the next two years as cost pressures bite.

In the context of the current economy there will be continued focus on consolidation as a means of driving improved operational efficiency, Slayton said. “But the focus can’t just be on consolidation, without flexibility and agility” he argued, saying that virtualisation is the best means of achieving all three, using the technology to encapsulate an application workload as a service to be deployed where best the workload can be processed.

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