Get your roadmap to a virtual infrastructure

* The Roadmap to Virtual Infrastructure: Practical Implementation Strategies

Has your organization gotten on the virtualization band wagon, or are you still wondering whether or not a virtual infrastructure is right for you? Either way, your company can benefit from a documented roadmap that outlines practical implementation strategies. The roadmap is gleaned from the real experiences of VMware customers, who collectively have virtualized more than a million server workloads on a VMware platform.

VMware offers this valuable information in a detailed white paper, The Roadmap to Virtual Infrastructure: Practical Implementation Strategies. Find this white paper and other resources on VMware's "resource" Web site. Meanwhile, I’ll summarize some of the main points for you in this article.

Companies are flocking to the “new” strategy of virtualized IT infrastructure for two reasons: to reduce and to gain. Virtualization helps you reduce hardware and the amount of resources you need for your data center, and ultimately reduce operational costs. (Some VMware customers have reported cost reductions in the range of 70% to 80%.) The gains come in the form of operational flexibility, efficiency and agility. In a virtualized environment, it’s possible to fully implement an enterprise application in less than an hour. For example, you can download the software of a virtual appliance and roll out the application to end users fairly quickly.

With the benefits well established, it all comes down to the roadmap for making it happen.

If you’ve been in IT for a decent length of time, reading the white paper’s list of key success factors for creating a virtualized infrastructure is like experiencing déjà vu. This list could well apply to practically any kind of major project:

• Get sponsorship from high levels of corporate management.

• Think of the movement (to virtualization) as a long-term architecture, not just a short-term project.

• Design for the big picture but deploy incrementally in order to get some experience and success under your belt.

• Try to show ROI results in six months or less.

• Get key stakeholder buy-in and support.

• Form a team to be the “agents of change.”

Funny, when I helped an energy company install its very first LAN in the late 1980’s, we had those same “key success factors.” They are trite, but true, no matter what kind of IT project you are undertaking.

Beyond this, however, the white paper’s advice gets a bit more specific to creating a virtual infrastructure, and here’s where the novice can benefit from learning from those who have already traveled the road. For example, the document provides specific recommendations on how to deal with key changes and considerations to the following areas of your IT environment:

• Data center facilities

• Shared storage

• Industry standard server hardware design

• Network infrastructure

• System and application availability

• Backup and system recovery

• Disaster recovery

• Cost allocation/chargeback

• Windows, Linux and application team integration

• Problem, change and incident management

Next, there are tips on how to build a Virtualization Center of Excellence and get started with your first project. In Phase 1, you conduct an operational assessment to see how far along you are toward being ready to accept a virtual infrastructure. In Phase 2, you plan and design your architecture. In Phase 3, you build it, and in Phase 4, you manage it.

Finally, the white paper provides links to other resources to help your organization prepare for and make the transition to a virtual infrastructure. For technical resources, find a hefty list of white papers and other materials here.

Oh, and if you need a good primer on virtual appliances, read Virtual appliances cure appliance bloat by Sandra Vaughan.

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