Seven half-truths about virtualisation

Cutting through the hype around virtualisation technology.


Virtualisation is revolutionising the datacentre, mostly for the better. But no technology is without potential pitfalls. Problems related to management, security, ROI and power use can all trip up a virtualisation deployment that isn't planned properly.

"Virtualisation has the potential to deliver immense cost savings and technical benefits," through the consolidation of servers and reduction of space and power needs, notes Laura DiDio, lead analyst with Information Technology Intelligence. "However, these savings don't automatically happen."

Her are seven - oh, let's call them half-truths - to fully consider before your virtualisation project is implemented.

1. Virtualisation will make my life easier

Virtualising servers will greatly reduce the time it takes to spin up new workloads. Some IT shops have reported being able to deploy new virtual machines (VM) in as little as 30 minutes, as opposed weeks for their physical counterparts. The promise that virtualisation simplifies IT is real in many respects.

But virtualisation simultaneously introduces management challenges that can't be ignored. IT shops need strict policies and perhaps third-party automation tools to prevent virtual server sprawl, the unchecked spread of VMs. Even if you end up with fewer physical servers, Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf says the overall number of managed objects can increase, because of the hypervisors and sheer number of VMs.

Many users assume administrative time will be lessened, but in reality the virtual infrastructure itself has to be managed and may require a new centralised storage system, says Martijn Lohmeijer, managing consultant with TriNext, an IT outsourcing and consulting firm.

Frustratingly, many software vendors don't offer the same levels of support for applications running in VMs as they do for applications running on bare metal.

Microsoft eased up on some licensing restrictions last year, but analysts are still criticizing Oracle and other vendors for restrictive policies related to support in virtualised environments. The calculation of software licensing fees can also be more complicated in a virtual datacentre.

"Not all server virtualisation licenses are the same," DiDio says. "You have to really study the terms and conditions of your licensing contracts from the various vendors."

NEXT PAGE: Consolidating onto fewer servers will be simple

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