The requirement for a dynamic IT infrastructure

In a recent newsletter we introduced the concept of Application Delivery 2.0, a major component of which is virtualization. This is the second in a series of newsletters that discusses how we think that virtualization will dramatically shape 2010 and beyond. The last newsletter discussed how the use of server virtualization will increase in 2010. This newsletter will discuss how one of the key benefits of server virtualization will be difficult to achieve in 2010.

The impact of server virtualization

One of the well-known benefits that can be derived from server virtualization is server consolidation. For example, a single physical server can support 10 or more VMs, allowing numerous applications that normally require dedicated servers to share a single physical server. This facilitates reducing the number of servers in the data center which results in significant savings in the both CAPEX (such as costs of server hardware, SAN Host bus adapters, and Ethernet network interface cards) and OPEX; such as server management labor expense, plus facility costs such as power, cooling, and floor space. Reducing the TCO of IT has been the primary driver of server virtualization to date and our research indicates that it will remain the primary driver of the expansion of server virtualization through 2010.

Another benefit of server virtualization is that it positions IT organizations to be able to transfer a production VM to a different physical server, either over the LAN to a server within the same data center or over the WAN to a server in a different data center, without service interruption. This capability is potentially extremely powerful as it enables workload management and optimization across an IT organization’s virtualized data center(s). This capability also helps an IT organization to streamline the provisioning of new applications; improve backup and restoration operations; and enable zero-downtime maintenance.

The static movement of a VM to a different physical server is relatively easy. However, dynamically moving a VM from one server to another is extremely complex. Part of the challenge is dynamically ensuring that the migrated VM retains the same security, storage access and QoS configurations and policies as it had previously. If some form of server load balancing is being performed, another challenge is to ensure that the server load balancer can account for the fact that one or more VMs have been moved. If an application firewall was protecting the VM prior to its being moved, an equivalent application firewall must be in place to protect the VM after it has been migrated. If the VM was running an application that was subject to PCI scrutiny and so the IT organization was performing specific logging and/or auditing as a way of meeting compliance requirements, then that functionality would also have to migrate along with the VM that hosts the application. The bottom line is that the dynamic movement of VMs requires a dynamic IT infrastructure. IT organizations will make headway in that direction in 2010, but it will take years before truly dynamic IT infrastructures are widely implemented.

In the next newsletter we will discuss the management challenges associated with virtualization - a topic that we talk more about in a recent report. In the mean time, we would like to hear from you. What forms of virtualization have you implemented and what new challenges did that create for you?

Learn more about this topic

Security and regulatory concerns slow some server virtualization

Gartner: Server virtualization now at 18% of server workload

The impact of server virtualization

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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