Comment : How you might be missing the Virtualisation boat

Everyone’s talking about virtualisation. It’s everywhere. It’s often seen as a quick win, silver bullet solution to fix IT problems, but there’s still a lot of talk about botched implementations, low returns and short term effectiveness.

For many businesses, it’s too confusing or risky to know where to begin, if at all.

Well, if there’s a time to virtualise, it is now. It’s the ‘in’ technology and everything is in place to support it: solid market penetration; buy-in from all major hardware vendors; storage capabilities; and global resource availability.

While virtualisation might be ripe for the picking, there’s still a lot of failing projects which, by and large, can be blamed on the same mistakes: failing to identify all the points in the business affected by change; not understanding the impact of the new world technology and the service management to support it; not engaging the other IT operations at the correct stage to maximise the ROI (for example network, security, desktop and so on) and finally not measuring the baseline cost savings and continually monitoring and reporting these back to the business.

The problem is that businesses are jumping on the virtualisation bandwagon without taking a strategic or holistic view. So, how do businesses succeed and achieve the best results?

There are some important steps to take to a successful virtualisation project:

• Complete a true analysis of the prospect and effect on the business operation over the next five years

• Create a strategy and ‘market’ that position back to the business

• Create a Service Catalogue in line with business demand and operational effectiveness

• Engage your strategic partners.

If, after analysis, virtualisation is the right technology for your business, do not just kick the tyres, be sure that there is potential in this prospect, or ask a consultancy firm for an open and honest blueprint of where you should be.

The virtualisation path is a tricky one to navigate well, so it’s important not to get caught in a number of traps.

Watch out for vendors that will only offer product-centric solutions, rather than support implementation to ensure that it is effective for the entire business today and in the future.

In fact, as every organisation has different requirements and critical success factors, it is advisable to get initial management to ensure that the virtualisation solution will work for the business, rather than assume it will meet your requirements straight out of the box.

Over coming months, I’m sure I will return to this subject many times, and in greater depth, particularly as the three way vendor battle that has recently been set-up between VMware, Microsoft and Citrix comes to fruition.

Until then, remember, the way to tackle virtualisation is one sure step at a time. Trust your information, gain that single point if truth your organisation needs, and make some solid, yet unbiased decisions.

Planning is everything when it comes to the data centre, and virtualisation can help you stay in shape for many years, with the right strategy.

Without it, it will sprawl and consume your resources like a hungry beast, and negate all your well intentioned objectives for DC consolidation and carbon off-set programmes.

Andrew McCreath is an Engagement Partner at GlassHouse Technologies. GHT is a global provider of IT infrastructure services enabling organisations to consolidate, virtualise and manage their IT environments.