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Virtual Instruments: Article

Virtual Instruments Look to Solve the Mission-Critical Virtualization Lags

Virtualization Survey

Virtualization and cloud computing certainly get a lot of hype. But how is that being translated into actual usage by enterprises?

A recent survey looked into just how deep the penetration really is, as well as what functions companies were virtualizing and sending to the cloud.

More than 200 organizations were questioned by four companies - Virtual Instruments, Altor Networks, Juniper Networks and Sendmail. These surveys covered several areas, while focusing on virtualization and the cloud.

"Our results show companies are increasingly motivated to virtualize applications for cost savings and business agility reasons," said Len Rosenthal, vice-president of marketing at Virtual Instruments.

"But, even with all the benefits of virtualization, performance concerns continue to be a significant stumbling block to virtualizing business critical applications, which are inherently I/O-intensive.

Virtual Reality
In terms of acceleration of server virtualization and adoption of cloud computing, they discovered that 58% of respondents had already virtualized 50% or more of their physical servers. This represented a sharp rise from the previous year when only 39% had reached the half way point.

When you lower the bar to the level of 30% virtualization or more, the number of companies reaching this level rises to in impressive 73%.

That ties in with VMware's concept of the stages of virtualization. Rick Jackson, the chief marketing officer of VMware, said stage one is simple virtualization of a few IT applications. This takes a company to about 20-30% virtualized.

The next stage is more focused on improving quality of service by virtualizing business applications like Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint. Then comes the final stage, which employs the cloud to provide business agility in a highly virtualized infrastructure.

"Most of our customers are in Phase 2," said Jackson.

Mission-Critical Virtualization
While more and more companies are using virtualization, some are dragging their heels about the virtualization of mission-critical applications. According to Len Rosenthal, VP of marketing at Virtual Instruments, only 35% have virtualized at least half of their key applications. This represents a mere 4% rise over the previous year.

"Performance concerns were cited as the IT reason for not virtualizing more business critical applications, with security in second place," said Rosenthal. "Support of company and senior IT leadership was the primary business-related reason."

Those companies who do move ahead with virtualization often pair it up with high-performance Fibre Channel (FC) storage area networks (SAN). Accordingly, the survey found that 66% of enterprises are using FC SANs as the primary storage used in conjunction with VMware.

"There remains an essential requirement for SAN I/O performance monitoring and optimization solutions to enable companies to virtualize business critical applications with confidence," said Rosenthal.

As might be expected, though, cloud computing adoption lags that of virtualization. 34% of respondents had implemented a private cloud architecture. Another 23% were planning to implement one in the next 12 months.

However, reticence remains. A full 43 % have no plans to embrace any kind of private cloud.

Dealing with Security
The basic concept of virtualization is this: it simplifies IT management by masking the physical layer. But that doesn't mask security problems. In fact it adds additional layers of vulnerabilities with the hypervisor, the virtual networks and switches, and the administrative layer.

"With virtualization and cloud computing, there can be more shared access or usage of shared resources, not to mention more interdependencies on the different resources," says Greg Schulz, analyst with StorageIO Group. "It's no longer just server or storage or networking or applications or facilities issues. It cuts across all technology domains and thus a comprehensive solution is needed."

By Drew Robb:

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SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.