IDC: Pool resources to virtually simplify IT

When implemented, storage virtualization can improve the total cost of ownership by up to 80 percent, says a senior analyst.

SINGAPORE--Virtualization is far from being relegated inside a dusty folder emblazoned with the word "hype", according to a senior IDC executive.

Speaking at an IDC conference here this week, Vernon Turner, the group vice president of IDC's global enterprise server solution division, said virtualization is the technology to rescue an IT world that is buckling under the strain of increasing infrastructure complexity.

"Who said IT is getting simple?" Turner said rhetorically. Today's IT infrastructures, which typically consist of multiple applications running on different operating systems and servers, have grown in complexity, he explained.

Long championed by the storage industry as a cost-efficient way to pool and centrally manage heterogeneous pieces of storage systems, virtualization today is being driven by two areas, Turner said. The first is the need for organizations to increase service levels and responsiveness to the market. The second is the need for overall operational efficiency in terms of IT operations, automation and management.

Turner suggested the use of virtualization technology to simplify and automate the management of computing resources, where:

  • it creates the appearance of single computing environment,

  • functions are no longer tied to a single host or device, and

  • it optimizes use the of each host

"We have done measurement studies (on TCO reduction) that show that over the last seven years, organizations have made between 20 percent to 80 percent improvements, depending on the type of virtualization technology used," he said.

According to Turner, there are five types of technologies that can be classified as virtualization. One is virtual access software, such as those used on thin clients to access any server operating environment. Examples of these include software from Citrix and Microsoft.

A second type is virtual processing software, which includes server clustering software, data and application availability software, and grid computing software, such as those from Veritas as well as Microsoft.

The third type of virtual processing software, in a class of its own, is virtual machine software that lets users create logical partitions on server platforms, such as software from VMware.

A fourth kind of virtualization software is what Turner termed as virtual application environment software that lets users perform platform-neutral application development. These are available from IBM, BEA and Oracle.

The last type is the "fully extended virtual environment" which makes use of a combination of the previous four elements to create an "environment that is never seen to slow down or fail, is highly available, and gives high performance", he said.

But before implementing this virtual environment, Turner suggested that organizations appoint a strong management advocate. Referring to the five different virtualization applications, he warned that these "five different touch-points could potentially give rise to friction".

Turner noted that in order for virtualization implementations to be successful, "people have to be willing to open up and share (resources) across the organization".