Trusting a virtualized environment

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a fellow CIO and the topic of virtualization came up. He told me that he has yet to virtualize any of his computing environment, which consists of 3 dozen or so physical servers (maybe more). When I asked him why, he indicated that he simply doesn’t trust virtualization’s all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach. Even after we talked through ways that environments can be built that provide even higher levels of redundancy and availability than are possible with traditional server environments, he indicated that he doesn’t see it as a fit for his environment. Given that we run similar environments and have similar workloads, it’s clear that he’s running physical servers at very low utilization rates and that virtualization could provide him with massive cost and resource savings. Of course, since it’s not my place, I didn’t push it too much.

Recently, as I’ve read a multitude of forums, I see a number of organizations that are still dipping their toes in this space and have yet to commit to a major virtualization implementation. In some cases, organizations have set up labs in which testing in being done, or only non-critical workloads are being moved to the virtualized environment. In my own case, this is how we got started a few years ago; we migrated aging physical server workloads to virtual ones and began to move non-critical workloads to the same environment but we quickly began moving mission-critical workloads as soon as we had an appropriate infrastructure in place. Now, we’re virtualizing mission-critical Microsoft Tier 1 applications including Exchange, SharePoint and SQL with tremendous success. We’ve seen clear success from our initiative – controlled costs, better resource utilization, easier management, faster service deployment and a lot more. As such, I look at other environments in which the virtualization potential seems clear and wonder what might be holding them back. Is it a resource issue? Are the organization workloads such that virtualization would simply not be feasible? Is it truly a trust or comfort level issue?

All of this got me to thinking – how many organizations out there still don’t quite trust virtualization and relegate its use to non-mission critical use? How many organizations out there have yet to even begin a virtualization initiative? I’d love to have you respond to this article with your thoughts on why you’re not quite up to taking the plunge.

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