Everyday Virtualization

All Else is Virtual, So Why Not the Apps?

We've come so far with this virtualized infrastructure in terms of everything else, so is the application the problem now?

Before virtualization was a centerpiece of my IT practice, I spent a lot of time dealing with application owners talking about application topics. With virtualization, I've been spending a lot more time dealing with infrastructure topics to make everything better for the application owners.

Whether or not they really appreciate that level of focus is a whole other topic. It's important to note that applications are still what really matter in an infrastructure solution, whether that's a physical infrastructure or one built on virtualization as a cornerstone technology.

I've seen categorical improvements across the board. In memory technology, there have been great improvements both on servers and in hypervisors for performance, capacity, cost savings and usage efficiency. The processor realm has continually improved in performance and density, with additional points for energy efficiency. That has been a huge important advance recently. We all know how and what storage is doing. If you haven't heard, it is awesome. There's a huge network change among us. We're all still taking that in for now, but that's not all that we can do.

Sure, we've made incredible advances in how we administer this virtual environment. Go back to 2006 or 2007, when the vSphere client or later on Hyper-V Manager consoles was your only view into the virtual environment. We really had quite a limited view and reach of the potential back then. Now we have incredible automation options for performance, resource management and even self-provisioning. There also are enhanced administration and availability techniques.

With all of that being said, have we really changed how we handle our applications? We've come so far with this virtualized infrastructure in terms of everything else, so is the application the problem now?

I talk to a lot of people around the world who are operating at varying levels of virtualization maturity. One factor is consistent. Those who embrace the infrastructure with clear lines of communication to the application teams, coupled with superior virtualization implementations, are best equipped for the future.

The application change is the hard part. In many of those scenarios, there is a bit of stakeholder education required. A simple conversation can make a huge difference: "If the application fits here, we can do all of this."

Before anyone calls foul here, I get that all applications can't be changed that easily. In fact, for the best part of my career, I worked in the industrial supply chain automation space. Even today, that would be a tough sell when trying to virtualize applications.

But each application that is a pain point in our environments is an opportunity for advancement. Can we have those conversations with our application owners? Can we get involved with the application process? From the IT standpoint, it's a risk versus reward decision. The risk is there may be a lot of time invested, with no changes made. The reward is possibly removing your last pain point in your datacenter. Wouldn't that be worth it to you?

About the Author

Rick Vanover (Cisco Champion, Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert) is based in Columbus, Ohio. Vanover's experience includes systems administration and IT management, with virtualization, cloud and storage technologies being the central theme of his career recently. Follow him on Twitter @RickVanover.

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