The Dark Side of Data Center Virtualization

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

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...