This post is composed of edited excerpts from my new white paper, Adoption an IT-as-a-Service Mindset to Overcome Virtual Stall. The term “VMstall” was coined by Andi Mann of CA Technologies.
VMware and others talk about the virtualization journey which chronicles the lifecycle of an organization from its first forays into virtualization until it reaches the private cloud end goal where IT is provisioned as a service. But most organizations encounter a phenomenon known as virtual stall which derails their progress along the virtualization journey – typically south of the 50% virtualization mark.
While there are many individual contributors to virtual stall, the Approaching an enterprise virtualization initiative from a physical mentality tends to create problems in the following areas:
Inefficient Processes: Examples include: backing up data only at the application layer, OS imaging rather than VM cloning, etc.
Less Effective Disaster Recovery: Backing up VMs onto tape and transporting to the DR facility rather than replicating them for much faster RTO/RPO.
Insufficient Funding: Departmental driven budgeting resulting in a slow and painful virtualization journey.
Misaligned IT Organizational Structures. Failure to adjust IT organizational models to reflect the demands of a virtual data center (vDC), i.e. isolated functional specialists.
Server Huggers: Failure to implement the architecture, tools, processes & senior management directives necessary to overcome application and database owner resistance to virtualizing Tier-1 applications.
Isolated Architectural Decisions: Purchasing IT equipment and software without considering the impact upon, or interoperability with, the overall vDC objectives.
Performance: Failure to account for the increased performance demands of resource-intensive Tier-1 and mission critical servers.
Lack of IT Staff Resources: Failure to account for increased complexity and demands on the IT staff resulting from a tactical approach to the virtualization journey.
Costly Licensing: Failure to apply the substantial virtualization licensing benefits to software of manufacturers such as Microsoft and Oracle.
VMsprawl: Failure to control the additional cost, complexity and security risk resulting from VMsprawl.
Security: Failure to account for reduced effectiveness of pDC security appliances and policies as virtual machines migrate throughout the environment via vMotion and DRS.
Outdated Application Selection/Deployment: Continuing to develop and purchase applications utilizing legacy application architectures resulting in less effective cloud bursting, horizontal load-balancing, active/active data centers, etc.
One easy, yet pragmatic, way to avoid getting stuck along the virtualization journey is to simply start at the endpoint of a private cloud, also known as IT-as-a-Service. An ITaaS mindset doesn’t necessarily mean an organization will go from zero to private cloud in one shot, but rather that it identifies and quantifies the private cloud benefits, and implements a solid road map to achieve them.
An ITaaS mindset forces organizations to look beyond the technology and instead evaluate the business reasons for automating the data center such as reducing time to deploy strategically important applications, increasing top line revenues, facilitating increased customer stickiness, enhancing employee productivity and enabling true business continuity in the event of a disaster. These business drivers facilitate the navigation of the political, social and technical barriers to pervasive virtualization. They help smooth the progress of the organizational and architectural changes that must take place in order to effectively transform IT to a service.