Users aware of virtualization yet unsure

Customers in the Asia-Pacific region have heard of the benefits of virtualization technology but are still apprehensive about implementing it, says HP executive.

In spite of the "hype" virtualization enjoys, adoption in Asia is very slow, largely due to customer fear and apprehension of embarking on large consolidation exercises, said an HP executive.

Aman Dokania, director and general manager, infrastructure software business unit, enterprise storage and servers, HP Asia-Pacific, said in an interview with ZDNet Asia that virtualization is often touted by vendors, but a vast majority of Asian data centers have not implemented the technology yet.

Quoting IDC figures from 2007, Dokania said Korea has the lowest rate of implementation at 94 percent of respondents saying they did not use the technology at all. China and Taiwan/Hong Kong follow, at 83 percent and 79 percent respectively. India was at 73 percent, the ASEAN region overall (excluding Singapore) logged in at 74 percent and Singapore was at 60 percent.

Dokania said feedback from HP's sales channels in the region generally highlighted poor customer awareness as the main reason for low adoption. In India, customers are still interested in "try-and-buy" schemes; partners in China and Korea have not picked up the technology yet, he noted.

In general, customer wins are generally big accounts, although those are few in the region, he said. "People have heard about it but they're unsure of the technology for now," said Dokania.

On low adoption, he said: "One primary reason is customer education, of course. Another is that often you get separate teams handling IT, be it one team for the data center and another for operations...you have to have a convincing business case for management.

"Customers are worried about larger issues like how consolidation impacts roles in the data center. You have to worry about retraining, too. Consolidation is not a one-time project," he added.

Uday Kumaraswami, vice president, consulting and integration, HP services Asia-Pacific and Japan, said the technology is still on many customers' radars because many are looking for ways to consolidate and optimize their data centers.

Quoting figures from a Penn, Schoen & Berland study HP commissioned, Kumaraswami said: "A third of CIOs believe that in two to five years, their data centers will be unable to meet the growing demands for business services and applications."

On top of pressure to keep up with growing business demands is the pressure to break free of having the data center seen as a cost center.

"A lot of resources are dedicated just to maintaining legacy. There is very little left to innovation" in the data center, which is made possible through gaining efficiencies by way of consolidation, said Kumaraswami.

HP on Monday announced a set of data center products and services aimed toward consolidating customer assets.

In the set is an expanded virtualization portfolio, which includes "design, support and education" services targeted toward easing customers into new implementations with virtual infrastructure modeling and planning of physical assets.

The company is also launching new software to map out and plan physical and virtual servers. Termed "HP Insight Dynamics - VSE", HP claims it is "the industry's first" software that will analyze physical and virtual servers together. It will be available in the second quarter of 2008.

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