Virtualisation – The Reality, not the Hype. Part II

by Tam Kyle, Senior License Consultant

It’s been a few weeks since we posted our last blog (Part I) which covered what Virtualisation is and why companies are so keen to take advantage of it. In this piece, we will discuss the sort of problems organisations encounter when virtualising and at a high level, how you can avoid these issues in the future.

Remember, at the end of this series, we will publish a fuller Virtualisation publication written by one of our Senior License Consultants, Tam Kyle – this will offer you much more detail and insight into this paradigm , how to side step the common pitfalls, its impact on licensing and the ‘3 Vital Treatments’ for Virtualisation ROI.

So, why do organisations get themselves into hot water when it comes to virtualising their environment? From our Roundtable discussion hosted in November last year, and our day to day working with large enterprise organisations, we have obtained an insight into some of the most common areas that companies fall foul of when virtualising.

• Scope creep – Part of the problem with virtualisation is that when you actually get something delivered, it’s good – people want more and they want it now. Don’t be distracted by the potential of success – by all means entertain change to your scope, but do it formally.

• Understand your needs and objectives – there are many physical implementations of virtualisation technology, but they’re not all alike; advanced implementations will bring advanced benefits, but require advanced technology. Have you considered the potential financial impact in your business case?

• Vendor Support – does the Vendor support your applications on a virtualised stack?

• Migration – Many organisations underestimate the work involved in migration. Get it wrong and you’ve got a broken application as well as a set of disgruntled users.

• License implications of migration – Checking whether your vendor is going to require you to double up licenses for the duration of the migration is important or you may unwittingly fall foul of their licensing rules potentially incurring unbudgeted expense for license non compliance

• Vendor lock-in – Your application is running on virtualised platforms and infrastructure in such an abstract manner that you don’t even know where your data is anymore. For some organisations, particularly those with sensitive data, this might not be ideal. Also, what happens if you need to change vendor?

• Ongoing control – Virtualisation isn’t a silver bullet – you don’t just walk away when it’s done. You’ve actually added a layer to your setup, so who manages the virtualisation part ongoing?

Avoiding the common issues of Virtualisation

Obviously I could go on for some time on how to avoid these common issues – for the purposes of this post, I have kept this deliberately brief. Remember that there will be a fuller publication available for down loading from our website after we have posted Part III (probably in a week’s time).

Our approach would be to understand your requirements thoroughly – document these and obtain appropriate sign off. Make sure that your business case has senior sponsorship and similar sign-off. Accommodate changes, but do it within a formal change request process.

Match your needs to a product set, or more rightly, product sets. Don’t necessarily force yourself towards one vendor – you might need to swap at some point.

Understand the footprint you are attempting to virtualise and remember, it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve 100% virtualisation. Manage expectations accordingly.

Consider the fact that there are some applications that just do not sit well with virtualisation; some are too big, have special vendor configurations and are tightly bound to hardware layers. There are other applications that you would not migrate for non-technical reasons such as company culture, 3rd party vendors and internal governance for example.

In our final blog post, we’ll look at the thorny issue of licensing impacts, with particular focus on Oracle.

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