5 reasons to get into virtualisation

5 reasons to get into virtualisation

As the virtualisation trend evolves from hype to action we take a look at what fi ve industry players think are good reasons and ways to use the technology.


Virtualisation can help save (a lot of) time when setting up IT infrastructure is the message being put forward by senior technical engineer at systems management software vendor NetIQ, Haf Saba.

"One of the common ways that it has been used is as a time saver to get the infrastructure going," he said. "What's nice about virtualisation is, if you think about the cost and time involved to source and acquire hardware and licensing and getting everything organised versus being able to dynamically turn on a virtual machine, it is a huge improvement in time saving."

According to Saba, virtualisation technologies have been used from this perspective to do server and datacentre consolidation.

"You've now got the ability to take advantage of other technologies like dynamic computing and server provisioning that is more accurate and aligned to the business," he explained.

"This will be based on growth. So if you think about a Web service provider that needs to scale service based on peak periods, being able to dynamically allocate a portion of the infrastructure to help in times of need is something that could not be done with physical equipment.

"What you will see over time is more tools becoming available that will automate that process better so we cut back still on the manual intervention involved."

While VMware has a big lead, particularly in the server virtualisation space, Saba claimed any channel player could take advantage of a virtual infrastructure play, including SMBs.

"Even on the flipside it's appropriate for a very small player. The reason for that is if you think about it, one accurately provisioned physical box off which to run a virtual platform may be enough for a very small organisation to run their entire fleet virtually," he said.

But although the benefits are well promoted channel players must also be aware of what the potential pitfalls are. For Saba these included: Overdoing the moving of virtual servers or what he calls "VMotion-sickness" - because it is just so easy to do; and "VMsprawl", or having too many virtual servers thereby increasing management difficulties and compliance concerns as a result of licensing issues.

A more personal touch

While the virtualisation bus has picked up advocates and proponents in these early stages of its journey, it is not without its pitfalls. Taking on a new technology for the novelty factor or simply because of the hype can lead a customer down a road full of costly potholes and obstacles. Unnecessary and complicated server management stress is just one common example. But by doing a comprehensive business analysis the channel can help to steer customers down the right track.

According to AppSense vice-president sales A/NZ, Sean Walsh, there are other considerations usually absent from the regular business analysis that should be acknowledged, especially in the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) space.

"VDI at the moment is in a research phase - yes people are aware of the technology, yes people are sort of dancing around it but the business drivers are not there yet because they're in some sort of hardware refresh or they want to do it with an application upgrade," Walsh said. He pointed to several large corporations from across verticals that have tested and piloted VDI solutions.

"Those projects haven't really been successful for a variety of reasons," Walsh claimed. "One of the main ones is that people look at it as just a desktop. We're going to virtualise a hundred desktops and whack it on the server farm and it will be fine. They forget about policy, they forget about profiles, they forget about personalisation, they forget about security.

"These are not issues that are small and minor but they are easy to not notice them in a distributed fat client environment because most people have unlocked or unmanaged PCs, it's just easier that way."

But in a centralised environment neglecting profiles and personalisation can make the user less inclined to agree VDI is a good way to go. Not being able to set your own desktop image for example - whether it is of your own kids, an idol, or any one of billions of options out there on the Internet - may just rub end users the wrong way. "Basically, the number one pitfall is around personalisation," Walsh claimed.

Letting your clients determine the way they view their virtual desktop, therefore, may just help ensure a smoother VDI ride.

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