6 Red Flags to Data Center Virtualization

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

Red Flag No. 1: Are you sure that virtualizing will, in reality, deliver you a positive ROI?

The fact is that when you look at total cost of ownership of data centers, a) the acquisition costs for systems are falling, and b) the power and cooling costs are rising. However, it is the management and administration costs that are ramping up.

Managing the new layer of complexity introduced with virtualization comes at significant cost, and this cost can be much greater than power/space savings. This must be factored into every virtualization project.

Red Flag No. 2: Do you have the IT staff to deal with increased complexity?

Consolidation gives an appearance that you have a decreased workload because there are fewer physical servers to manage, but the fact is you have increased the server count.  This is because you still have exactly the same number of servers running the same applications, but they are now virtualized and more complex to manage. You can't use simple tools such as serial console/KVM; plus, your IT staff now has a new layer of hypervisor software to manage.

Red Flag No. 3: Are you resourced to manage the likely increase in demand?

Virtualization makes it easier for businesses to add more IT functions. You can run more applications without going through the corporate complexity of purchasing new hardware, and they can be up and running much easier without waiting for delivery/installation. The downside of reducing these barriers is that virtualization invariably increases demands for new and expanded services from the business, so you need to be prepared.

Red Flag No. 4: Are your data center layout and power and cooling facilities/management sophisticated enough to manage consolidation?

Fact: Only a small percentage of data centers monitor the power consumption and the temperature profiles at each rack. Many don't even have planned rack layouts in their data centers that will enable them to manage the "hot spots" that can result from consolidation.

While this shortfall makes the shareholders of Schneider Electric in Paris (who now own APC) smile, this is one area where managers definitely should bring in expert advice before committing to virtualization (which always brings increased processor utilization). "Virt" often is accompanied by moves to more energy-intense blade servers and extra hardware for high availability, which can result in the power-burn per rack growing tenfold and more in spots.

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 Salesforce.com 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 DevX.com 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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