Ownership hampers virtualization adoption

Virtualization's biggest barrier stems from confusion over who is responsible for software when it is "separated" from hardware, says Citrix top executive.

The issue of ownership remains the biggest barrier to virtualization adoption in enterprises, according to a top executive of a virtualization vendor.

Wes Wasson, Citrix's chief strategy officer, told ZDNet Asia the problem hampering many decisions to begin virtualization in a company stem from "mindset barriers".

"Virtualization raises questions of ownership because you separate software from hardware. The guy who runs the servers is thinking, 'This infrastructure I've managed my whole career, now I don't know which server applications are going to be on [which server]?'

"Many customers are still [in the process of] getting comfortable with the notion of virtualization because [IT staff] have very defined roles," he said in an interview.

A second barrier is a technical one, Wasson said. While some application workloads are "easy to virtualize" and certified virtualization-ready, many others that are crucial to enterprises simply do not work well on virtualized environments, he said.

These are mainly input/output (I/O)-intensive applications, such as e-mail and database software, he said, naming Microsoft Exchange as an example of software that Microsoft "will not certify" for use on virtual environments because of performance issues.

"The hypervisor wasn't designed for I/O-centric software. The performance goes down by 60 to 70 percent...So just when customers manage to consolidate hardware by virtualizing, everything grinds to a halt [with these types of software]," explained Wasson.

Nonetheless, this barrier will likely cease to exist within the next 12 to 18 months, as application vendors write more for virtualized environments, he added.

Quoting statistics estimating there is only 5 percent implementation of virtualization on servers today, Wasson said this will change, as companies begin to embrace virtualization technology.

He said: "Most companies have tried virtualization and seen the immediate benefits, but they are uncertain about moving forward," and added that adoption may be highest in Asia in the near future because new IT talent and infrastructure is poised to skip over the "human" barriers of ownership.

"My advise to customers is to be practical," he said, suggesting companies virtualize software that is certified for such environments.

"For software that is not certified, take it slow. There is no need to rush into things just because it's a hot cause," said Wasson.

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