Virtualization Adoption Slips: More Gloom for IT?: Page 2

Posted December 14, 2009

Jeff Vance

Jeff Vance

(Page 2 of 2)

This, though, is where the enterprise and SMBs part company for now. SMBs are not terribly interested in cloud services, at least not their own. Call it SaaS and you’ll likely get a different response.

The main stumbling block isn’t cost or security or just the overall newness of moving to the cloud. No, it’s software licensing. Software licenses on a per-seat or per-CPU model just don’t translate to the cloud.

How, then, are all of these organizations offering cloud services? Are they just violating their licensing agreements?

“No, what they’re doing is entering into custom licensing agreements,” Bittman said. “Software vendors are negotiating each and every deal.”

That model is fine with a few large organizations doing it, but it certainly won’t work for broader adoption. Vendors will have to move to usage-based pricing, which many are still reluctant to do. Until they do, though, the applications made nimble and free through virtualization will be reigned back in by out-of-date licensing agreements.

Case Study: Camber Corporation Chooses Virtualization over Bloated IT

As military contractor Camber Corporation has learned, the decision to adopt virtualization or not is often not a choice but a necessity.

The company has been expanding in recent years, both through acquisitions and natural growth. What was formerly an 800-person company began on a growth path a few years ago that has nearly tripled headcount (they’re now at about 2,000 employees).

The company had 60 servers, each application-specific, and as it grew, more servers would be added, meaning that the IT staff would need to be doubled or tripled. Even with more people, the staff would still have to cope with never-ending sprawl and a slew of management headaches – unless they streamlined their infrastructure.

Camber selected a solution consisting of EMC storage, VMware virtualization and Dell servers that collapsed 60 physical servers down to 6, with those 6 servers running 150 applications.

“We went from a huge data center, with plenty of overhead for power and cooling, along with expensive maintenance contracts, to a streamlined data center that is much easier to control, manage and secure,” said Wayne Blockel, CIO of Camber.

That’s right, Blockel said that this infrastructure is easier to secure. Security is considered one of virtualization’s main stumbling blocks, so this answer came as a surprise.

As a military contractor, Camber can’t take security lightly. While the vulnerability of the hypervisor remains a concern, Blockel argues that virtualization gives IT more control over security.

“If we had our existing infrastructure in a traditional server farm, we would have 150 discreet operating systems, 150 physical machines that would need failover capabilities, and 150 systems to patch and update,” he said. “Now, each system is easier to patch and maintain, and almost by default, IT has a real-time view of what is going on with the infrastructure.”

A side benefit has been that by decoupling applications from hardware, individual departments feel free to experiment. If they want to offer a new service, they fire up a virtual server and test it out. In the past, that process required purchasing requests, a long paper trail and then a waiting period of a month or longer for the hardware to be in place. Experimentation was time and cost prohibitive, and thus wasn’t done.

“It’s not just the experiments where this is beneficial,” Blockel said. “Applications are more thoroughly tested before they go into production because we now have the ability to test them without significant overhead.

“We can test applications, databases and delivery mechanisms well before anything actually goes out the door.”

The final benefit is one being considered by many other enterprises that have virtual environments: a shift to cloud services. Camber has 26 offices, so moving to private cloud services is a perfect fit, and the process is already underway.

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Tags: operating system, virtualization, virtual, Enterprise, workloads

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