Having partnered with many of the nation’s leading companies, we hear and see a lot. Lately, we’ve been witnessing the enthusiasm of IT organizations in adopting server virtualization as a means to significantly reduce IT cost and complexity and to offer an overall increase in efficiency and reliability.
What are the benefits of virtualization?
Virtualization enables multiple applications to run on a single physical server within their optimized operating system instance, so the primary benefit of virtualization is that fewer servers are needed to carry the same number of workloads. Not only does virtualization optimize infrastructure, it offers reductions in the physical footprint, reduces power and cooling requirements, enables the application and enforcement of universal security policies, and provides higher availability at a much lower cost.
Planning for virtualization
Virtualization can make IT more efficient and cost-effective however, many of the virtualization advantages can be canceled out when data centers rely on technology and processes that haven’t been updated for virtualized deployments. Process discipline and streamlined management automation have long been operational mandates, but with the advent of virtualization, these requirements are exacerbated. The adoption of virtual technologies significantly increases complexity, which in turn mandates process refinement.
Planning for virtualization projects should always include the information security team, but according to Gartner survey data about 40% of virtualization projects were undertaken without the security team’s involvement in initial architecture and planning stages. Because the hypervisor has oversight over all the workloads running on a physical server, a threat “could result in the compromise of all hosted workloads,” according to Gartner analyst Neil MacDonald in his 2010 report titled “Addressing the Most Common Security Risks in Data Center Virtualization Projects.” Gartner recommends treating the virtualization platform “as the most important IT platform in your data center from a security and management perspective.” IT must be concerned about vulnerabilities in any code installed in the hypervisor layer, including drivers, plug-ins and third-party tools, and keep everything up to date and patched.
These are just a few things that should be taken into consideration during the planning phases of virtualization projects. If you’re interested in learning more, Taos consultants are well-versed in the ins and outs of virtualization and are here to help. Find out how we helped a global telecom company attain approximately $0.5M in hardware savings by virtualizing their Solaris environment in our Case Study | Engineering and IT Virtualization Project.