The Dark Side of Data Center Virtualization

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-10-02 Print this article Print

No modification to a data center system is a slam dunk. As virtualization moves in to become a permanent resident of new and reburbished enterprise systems, there are cautions that must be acknowledged. We offer a practical list of red flags to consider when planning such a move.

Virtualizing a desktop PC, a server, a storage array or an entire data center to obtain better efficiencies and draw less power certainly makes a lot of sense.

As more enterprises each day finish their testing and QA projects, they are putting "virt," as it is casually known, into production play-whether it's market-leading VMware, Citrix's XenSource, Microsoft Hyper-V or a lesser-known hypervisor.

The logic of server virtualization in data centers is very compelling. Businesses are empowered to consolidate all their underutilized Windows, Linux and Solaris systems sprawled throughout their data centers and remote locations, and in doing so they save on precious floor space and electrical draw. Over time, these efficiencies can add up to substantial savings on a company's bottom line.

"The reality is that the underpinning hypervisor technologies are mature, robust and efficient, contrary to sporadic expressions of security concerns that have been aired," Bob Waldie, CEO of Opengear, a next-generation IT infrastructure management company, told me.

Opengear's Management Gateway enables secure remote access and control of all the computers and communications devices in a distributed network.

For some basic steps to secure your virtual environment, click here.

Generally, virtual servers are now being hosted on reliable hardware platforms that are designed to meet the intense network, performance and security demands that come with virtualization, Waldie said. Because the hardware and software are now ready for prime time, server virtualization in the data center is growing. However, a virtualization layer adds complexity, and the consolidation brings intensity, Waldie said.

"These two unavoidable attributes have a swag of hidden costs and substantive downsides and risks," he said. 'So the compelling value proposition of virtualization does not apply to all situations, and for smaller data centers and computer rooms, it generally does not apply at all."

With all this in mind, Waldie put together a group of key "red flags" for IT managers and CTOs to consider before committing a data center system, or parts of that system, to virtualization.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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