“Virtual first” should be the norm

Let me begin by saying that I’m not intending this post to be a cloud vs. on-premises debate. There is obviously a different discussion that takes place when organizations make decisions around the location at which their services will operate. I’m intending this article to be a part of the second decision: Once the decision is made to run on-premises, how does your organization approach the issue of running a new workload on a virtual machine as opposed to a physical one.

By now, most IT organizations are at least aware of the significant benefits that there are to be had with virtualization. From new ways to manage costs and likely reduce them to new availability mechanisms to easier deployment of new business services, virtualization has certainly change the data center landscape for the better. In larger organizations in which systems are distributed among dozens of different departments, the benefits of a centralized virtualization strategy can be enormous, but many individual groups are loathe to give up direct control of services. With an appropriately architected virtual environment, even these smaller, single server divisions can leverage the benefits of centralized virtualization by being granted administrative rights on their own virtual instance. At the same time, the overall organization is able to eliminate the physical server or servers that are in use by individual departments and better manage risk. After all, what happens when a single server crashes in a department without a real backup strategy?

In my opinion, all companies should adopt a “virtual first” policy that requires that a virtualized environment be considered as the first platform on which a new or replaced service is running. This would apply even to existing workloads; when a physical server hits its lifecycle replacement time, the services on that server should be considered as candidates for execution in the company’s virtual environment.

The City of San Francisco has adopted such a policy and, although we do not have a formal policy at Westminster College around this concept, it is the method by which we operate. In fact, there is a very high bar that needs to be met in order for us to procure a new physical server to host a service.

What about your organization? Do you have a “virtual first” policy or process?

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