Virtualization Costs Offset by Greater Efficiencies
Virtualization technology imposes costs and management stress on datacenter
managers in addition to boosting the complexity of installations, according
to senior IT managers. And many IT executives who have spearheaded virtualization
projects note that metrics for the technology often aren't available.
But those same executives also have learned -- and have convinced their customers
in other parts of their enterprises -- that overcoming virtualization headaches
ushers in a brave new world of datacenter performance. After a virtualization
project matures, datacenter managers can benefit from dramatically reduced power
consumption, supercharged system performance and increased thermodynamic functions.
In addition, said IT leaders speaking today at the FOSE
Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C., virtualization projects routinely
unleash the processing power that figuratively lies asleep in servers and other
redundant datacenter gear, and speed the process of deploying new applications
and completing failover actions. Virtualization technology also helps managers
improve IT staff allocations and continuity-of-operations performance by reducing
commutes, they added.
A FOSE conference panel that featured Shawn Landry, architect of the Army Program
Executive Office's (PEO) consolidated data center for the Pentagon, and Bajinder
Paul, chief information officer at the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller
of the Currency (OCC), described datacenter virtualization projects that had
transformed the IT infrastructures they manage.
Landry represented the Army PEO on behalf of vendor reVision Inc. He described
a virtualization process that shrank a datacenter that had grown to cover an
area as large as 140,000 square feet to a compact zone of 3,500 to 3,600 square
"We achieved achieved a space reduction of about 9 to 1 at OCC,"
Paul said. The bank regulatory agency exec pointed to the importance of faster
deployment of applications to the office's field contingent of some 1,000 bank
examiners who oversee the solvency and regulatory compliance of banks that collectively
represent about $7 trillion of assets. App deployment speed will increase in
importance as OCC faces changes prompted by financial turmoil, Paul added
Both IT managers emphasized the importance of virtualization systems provided
by VMware to their projects. Other virtualization specialists at FOSE cited
products provided by Microsoft and Citrix, among other vendors.
As for how to ensure that virtualization projects function as planned, Paul
noted that after planning the overhaul, certification and accreditation of the
systems became an issue. "The bottom line is that we have to micromanage
it," Paul said, referring to the need to groom the details of the new installation.
Landry noted that software licensing became a problem in the Army's datacenter
overhaul. Each of the multiple services, commands and agencies that relied on
the datacenter used separately negotiated software licenses. In other cases,
center users had recently purchased costly collections of brand-new hardware
and bridled at junking the equipment.
The task of arranging governance structures for datacenters that serve multiple
clients -- such as the Army's -- emerged during the session as a focus of attendee
interest. Landry noted in a chat after the formal session that he had gained
the attention of the center's clients by issuing a letter to users pointing
out their respective systems' flaws. All of the datacenter users subsequently
attended a meeting about the project.
Wilson Dizard III is the deputy news editor/senior writer for Government Computer