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IT Holding Back on Virtualizing Business-Critical Apps

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While many enterprises are expanding their adoption of virtualization, stumbling blocks remain when it comes to business-critical applications, according to surveys of IT pros and attendees at this week’s VMworld conference.

In one survey by virtual infrastructure performance technology vendor Virtual Instruments, 48 percent of the 200 attendees it polled cited performance concerns as the top IT reason for not virtualizing more business-critical applications. Thirty-two percent cited security concerns.

A separate survey by AppDynamics, also released this week, found that only 14 percent had fully virtualized their mission-critical or “Tier 1” applications.

That’s not the case for non-critical apps and systems, however, 83 percent of which AppDynamics said respondents’ businesses have virtualized.

A majority of companies in the survey, 52 percent, said that application owners had blocked a project to virtualize a Tier 1 application.

Those responding to the AppDynamics’ Application Virtualization Outlook survey, which was conducted last month before VMworld, said they were 50 percent more likely to virtualize applications used by employees than applications that directly interact with customers.

“People issues,” performance, and design concerns were cited as the primary obstacles to virtualizing mission-critical applications.

“What application owners are missing is hard evidence that their application will perform acceptably once it is in a virtual environment,” AppDynamics CEO Jyoti Bansal said in a statement. “They are under intense pressure to ensure that applications experience 100 percent uptime and meet strict performance SLAs, and they are looking to virtualization teams to show them that this transition won’t affect service quality.”

But even if some specific projects are being blocked, the Virtual Instruments’ survey still showed an overall increased adoption of virtualization over last year.

For example, 58 percent said they had virtualized at least half of their physical servers compared to 39 percent in a survey Virtual Instruments conducted at last year’s VMworld conference. This year, 73 percent said they had virtualized 30 percent or more of their physical servers.

Still, there was only a slight increase in moving business critical applications on to virtual servers (35 percent said they’d moved 50 percent or more of their business critical apps to virtual servers, versus 31 percent in 2009).

Cloud computing and virtualizing email infrastructure

Cloud computing was a major theme of the conference and it seemed to be a relevant topic to many, but not all, attendees based on the Virtual Instruments survey results.

For example, 34 percent said they have implemented private cloud architecture and 23 percent said they planned to implement one in the next 12 months. But 43 percent said they aren’t planning to implement private clouds.

The virtualization of email infrastructure was the focus of a separate survey of VMworld attendees by messaging vendor Sendmail. Survey results showed 56 percent have migrated components, if not their entire, email infrastructure to a virtualized environment.

In SendMail’s results, 59 percent said increased server utilization and high availability and failover support were the top factors in deciding whether to migrate their email infrastructures to a virtualized environment.

Conversely, “Performance/Throughput” was cited by 45 percent as the biggest potential limiting factor they considered when deciding whether to migrate email infrastructures to a virtualized environment. The second biggest limiting factor at 14 percent were security concerns.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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