Stefan Haase from Intechnology explains how a virtual hosting service provides access to cloud-based virtual servers and can transform IT provision within the housing sector.
With virtualisation now firmly established on the IT agenda, the focus is very much on how fast and how far the enterprise will push the technology. Conversely, it’s important to look at how the technology might force the enterprise to evolve.
‘Early majority’ for virtualisation
With Gartner forecasting that nearly half of all server workloads will be virtualised by 2012 and the number of virtual machines set to grow tenfold to around 60 million by the same time, it’s fair to say that virtualisation is well on its way from the ‘early adopter’ to the ‘early majority’ stage.
IT departments in the housing sector and the wider public sector now have to do more with less and are keen to leverage virtualisation beyond the easy wins of R&D environments and file and print servers. However, they are less keen on the high-end in-house systems needed to underpin such projects, which makes the option to use virtual servers in the cloud a compelling proposition. Instead of a further round of capital investment, more pressure on machine rooms and IT teams, and protracted project lifecycles, users can configure their server and storage selections online, quickly and easily.
Cost savings and resilience
A typical virtual machine environment significantly reduces hardware requirements, as well as the energy and space costs of power and cooling. In fact, virtual servers are estimated to be 700-800 per cent more efficient than a traditional server. As well as the cost and environmental savings associated with consolidation, virtualisation can help improve operational resilience and data security, and expedite the provisioning and scaling of IT resources. Virtualisation can also increase server utilisation and facilitate the testing and development of applications – all key considerations for improving agility, adaptability, capability and compliance.
Few can question the positive impact virtualisation will have on lower-tier applications such as file and web servers. As such, it would seem safe to assume that organisations are more likely to push on with a second wave of projects to virtualise their business-critical applications and leverage yet more benefit from the technology. And yet this second wave has been characterised by hesitancy and uncertainty, with many organisations unwilling to step away from the physical processes they have become used to.
Some of the concerns are familiar, including worries about security, licensing arrangements, in-house skill sets and vendor responsibilities. But virtualisation is a leading argument in the case for streamlining back-office administration, simplifying systems management and strengthening business continuity. The question is, can it deliver at the business-critical end consistently and convincingly?
The good news is that there is already evidence that suggests it can, and that technological advances in both hardware and software are rendering past performance objections null and void. Recent customer surveys and detailed white papers by industry leaders clearly show how developments in processor technology and virtualisation management tools are allowing businesses to view the second wave of virtualisation as a viable proposition.
It is important to note that this is not all just about affordability, offloading capital requirements and on-going support costs. It’s not even about agility and the ability to access premium virtualised resources at the click of a mouse. Ultimately, it’s about giving you cloud computing with control; it’s about giving you options. Above all, it’s about giving you what you need when you need it, today, tomorrow and in five years’ time.
Stefan Haase is divisional product director for data cloud services at InTechnology.