Lessons from the virtualised enterprise

Nick Turnbull, EMEA sales director, Marathon Technologies, says now is the time for SMEs to consider adopting virtualisation, and provides some food for thought on things to consider before taking the plunge.

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It is almost a tradition that new technologies initially are adopted by large enterprises, companies with greater resources, funding and capacity available to them; while small and mid-szed enterprises (SMEs) look on and learn from their experiences. This benefits SMEs as they learn from any mistakes the enterprise might make, and wait until they have laid down the ‘perfect’ precedent.

The enterprise leads the way

Recently, enterprise size businesses have begun implementing virtualisation technologies to consolidate their servers, manage their networks and applications more effectively and reduce their carbon footprint. These companies are starting to reap the benefits of such a move including reductions in server capital expenditure, lower server management costs, increased IT agility and the opportunity to present a strong ‘green’ message.

Why then shouldn’t these benefits also be available to the countless SMEs in the market? Well, it seems that the virtualisation buzz is beginning to excite this market as well. Emerging solutions, based on open source virtualisation technologies, are opening doors by removing existing barriers of entry: cost and complexity.

The good news also brings some bad, as enterprise experience is also showing the unpredicted consequences of virtualisation.

One of the more pressing effects, due to the complex architecture of virtualised environments, is an increased susceptibility to planned and unplanned downtime. SMEs must take heed of such experiences so that they are aware of the potential risks as well as the benefits of virtualisation. By understanding them and introducing solutions in the right way, these companies can protect their critical applications, preventing costly downtime and failures, while still being able to virtualise their environments.

According to Gartner’s Tom Bittman, there is “clearly a pent-up demand for virtualisation with better management, availability & DR.”

Here are five steps to a protected virtualised environment:

1. Assess the need for a virtualised environment

While lessons can be learnt from enterprise adoption, smaller businesses still need to assess their individual requirements for the technology. Before implementing a new technology, any business, no matter of sized, has to assess whether new technology is viable and whether it is really necessary at a particular point in time.

Equally, a business needs to assess its current infrastructure and decide if a new solution actually is required to meet the needs, and how it will impact future technology implementations.

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