Virtualisation is integral to making a whole load of IT priorities happen, from security to digital transformation. Ian Campbell of the Sunday Business Post finds out why.
In an age where IT conversations are mostly about cloud, everything-as-a-service and digital transformation, it’s easy to forget that powerful technologies are under the bonnet making the magic happen. Principal among them is virtualisation.
Large numbers of organisations used it to impose new levels of control over their IT estates over a decade ago, abstracting software from server hardware with virtual machines, shortcutting the process of developing and launching new products and services. It’s a process of transformation that is still going on.
Virtual infrastructure has evolved steadily since, incorporating storage, networks and the desktop. Today it’s estimated that around 80-90 per cent of an organisation’s infrastructure will be virtualised.
Antonio Pogliani, head of hosting and managed services at Viatel, offers a forensic analysis of how virtualisation is adopted. “Generally speaking, it’s a journey that has four different stages,” he said.
“It starts with companies getting comfortable with the tools.”
This period of adjustment is when organisations typically start using virtualisation for test and development, and non-business-critical workloads that won’t impact on operational processes. Next, there’s a period of strategic consolidation where they start to change their mindset and culture. They gradually make the move from the traditional client/server model to the world of virtual servers and hypervisors.
“The third phase is where they start to see process improvement. They start trusting virtualisation tools and deploying operational efficiencies. This is where you find the majority of the Irish organisations,” said Pogliani.
“Moving to the next stage can be the painful part, and it may take three to five years.”
This final stage is about having the confidence to leverage virtual infrastructure for pooling and automation, creating even greater efficiencies that increase a company’s cloud readiness. But the pace of public cloud adoption has made this transition harder, according to Pogliani.
“The majority of companies are adopting a hybrid approach by mixing legacy application with best-of-breed cloud technologies. What we do at Viatel is help organisations develop and implement the right hybrid strategy,” he said.
Virtualisation enables better security, ticks important regulatory boxes, facilitates cloud migration and has become synonymous with digital transformation, the much talked about journey that every organisation is advised to undertake. It helps enable endpoint management and gives businesses the mobility they will need as part of being digital.