Datalink’s Kent Christensen reveals to Business Management how a virtualized data center can revolutionize your business.
What challenges do businesses face when implementing virtualization infrastructure into their data center?
Kent Christensen. In general, getting started is fairly straight-forward and many organizations are well under way. However, as virtualization becomes more mission critical, the challenges in getting optimal results for the business can begin to materialize. In most cases, when organizations initially embarked on virtualization, they did not foresee the degree to which it would eventually scale, involving not just servers, but also integrating storage and networking and eventually aligning with business processes. Thus, one of the biggest challenges is implementing a top down approach with all stakeholders feeding into the solution.
Virtual data centers can be complex and can require altered technology infrastructure. What steps can businesses take to successfully move toward the virtual data center?
KC. Some of the technology is new and, as a result, can require different skill sets or, at a minimum, better collaboration with IT teams and business units. Identifying a vision and implementing a virtualization strategy in line with that vision is a good start. It would be unusual though for an organization to go from virtualizing a few servers to having a well-architected virtual data center or even a private cloud in one step. There are many incremental steps that can be implemented that make progress toward the vision and provide tangible benefits to the organization along the journey. Examples include:
When implemented and managed successfully, what advantages can businesses expect to gain from a virtual data center?
KC. The most immediate is significant cost savings. IT will require fewer physical resources across servers, storage and networking to deliver the same or more applications to the business. The next is simplicity in that a common application platform can be leveraged to provide more services with fewer platforms to manage, which ultimately increases operational efficiency. With that comes more flexibility and agility, making IT more valuable to the business. Revenue generating applications can be brought up in a fraction of the time with better levels of service and at a reduced cost.
What do you expect to see in the next 2 to 3 years in terms of virtualization technologies? Do you anticipate any new factors coming in to play in virtualization infrastructure?
KC. There will be significant advances in technologies in several areas, including management, integration and Cloud computing. In terms of management, the hyper-visor is becoming a commodity and the framework that manages the virtual environment provides the value. Examples are VMware® Virtual Infrastructure and vCenter, Microsoft® System Center and Virtual Machine Manager, or Citrix® Essentials.
For integration, a virtualized data center will still require technologies from multiple vendors. Increased integration of server, storage and networking technologies will create complementary architectures with fewer management points that will work together to meet business needs. With the Cloud the ability to apply cloud concepts, such as policy-based, services oriented and automated self service services, that are aligned with business needs will become more prevalent. Ultimately this will require additional standards for portability and security to enable virtual data centers or private clouds to morph into hybrid clouds that interface with public cloud providers.
At Datalink, we meet with customers who are at a variety of stages in adopting virtualization technologies. Our focus is on transforming their data centers to become more efficient, manageable and responsive to changing business needs. We help them leverage and protect storage, server, and network investments with a focus on long-term value. For more information, contact us at (800) 448-6314 or www.datalink.com.