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Novell: Virtualization's nothing to fear

Developments in the technology are helping to ease fears around implementation, and Novell wants CIOs to leave their apprehension behind.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Developments in virtualization technology are helping to assuage fear and uncertainty around the implementation of such projects, so users have less to risk now, says a Novell executive.

Vendors have in recent years offered a myriad of reasons for the technology's low utilization--from difficulty in deploying and managing virtual machines to user uncertainty, to a disconnect between messages from upper management down to IT managers.

According to Tham Joon Nam, Novell business strategist, Asia West, it's a little bit of everything.

"One hurdle is users are unsure of how to manage their virtual machines, and also which applications to virtualize," Tham said in an interview with ZDNet Asia.

"IT managers also have the mindset that there needs to be a dedicated server for [mission critical] applications. This is how we were trained in schools, and that has stuck," he added.

To embark on virtualization projects, IT departments should design frameworks around managing their virtual machines and applications, so that they can more accurately calculate risk and ease the transition toward implementation, said Tham.

One such framework Novell has drawn up, automates the migration from physical assets to virtual, which it has coined "virtualization 2.0".

"It's easy to see and tell how many physical servers you have up and running, but it's harder to tell how many virtual machines you have within each one. As you start to understand and maximize the technology, you have to treat each virtual machine as a physical one.

"Each of them needs patching, workload management and threshold management, too," said Tham.

Novell hopes such frameworks will help catalyze uptake, which has stayed at around 5 percent of servers in the market.

Last year, IDC estimated that less than a million of the world's 24.6 million Intel-based servers use the technology.

Reiterating some of virtualization's value propositions, Tham said cost saving is the technology's largest.

For example, companies get to consolidate workloads to a smaller number of servers, saving on the electricity bill.

Large enterprises also tend to have a number of different legacy applications they need to juggle, on which Tham said virtualization can help lower risk by setting up test environments more easily on virtual machines.

Tham also said he hopes Novell's policy in pricing its Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) licenses on a per-copy basis, not restricting users to a number of virtual machines, will help drive adoption up.

Gordon Haff, Illuminata analyst said last year the advent of virtualization means companies that have traditionally limited licensing policies on software may have to change that.

"I expect that we are going to see more software being licensed per-employee or per-use, or metrics that are really much more tied to the value that the software is delivering," Haff said.

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