Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Survey: Virtualization and physical infrastructures need to be managed in tandem

If your company uses test and development infrastructures as a proving ground for shared services, virtualization and private cloud environments, you’re not alone. More companies are moving in that direction, according to a Taneja Group survey.

Yet underlying the use of the newer infrastructure approaches lies a budding challenge. The recent Taneja Group survey of senior IT managers working on test/dev infrastructures at North American firms found that 72 percent of respondents said virtualization on its own doesn’t address their most important test/dev infrastructure challenges. Some 55 percent rate managing both virtual and physical resources as having a high or medium impact on their success. The market is clearly looking for ways to bridge this gap.

Sharing physical and virtual infrastructures

Despite the confusion in the market about the economics of the various flavors of cloud computing, Dave Bartoletti, a senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group, says one thing is clear: Enterprises are comfortable with, and actively sharing, both physical and virtual infrastructures internally.

“This survey reaffirms that shared infrastructure is common in test/dev environments and also reveals it’s increasingly being deployed for production workloads,” Bartoletti says. "Virtualization is seen as a key enabling technology. But on its own it does not address the most important operational and management challenges in a shared infrastructure.”

Half the survey respondents are funding projects starts in 2009. Another 66 percent of respondents will have funded a project started by the end of 2010.

Noteworthy is the fact that 92 percent of test/dev operations are using shared infrastructures, and companies are making significant investments in infrastructure-sharing initiatives to address the operational and budgetary challenges. Half the survey respondents are funding projects in 2009. Another 66 percent of respondents will have funded a project started by the end of 2010.

The survey reveals most firms are turning to private cloud infrastructures to support test/dev projects, and that shared infrastructures are beginning to bridge the gap between pre-production and production silos. A full 30 percent are sharing resource pools between both test/dev and production applications. This indicates a rising comfort level with sharing infrastructure within IT departments.

Virtualization’s cost and control issues

Although 89 percent of respondents use virtualization for test/dev, more than half have virtualized less than 25 percent of their servers. That’s because virtualization adds several layers of control and cost issues that need to be addressed by sharing, process, workflow and other management capabilities in order to fully maximize and integrate both virtual and physical infrastructures.

“Test/Dev environments are one of the most logical places for organizations to begin implementing private clouds and prove the benefits of a more elastic, self service, pay-per-use service delivery model,” says Martin Harris, director Product Management at Platform Computing. “We’ve certainly seen this trend among our own customers and have found that additional management tools enabling private clouds are required to effectively improve business service levels and address cost cutting initiatives.” [Disclosure: Platform Computing is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Despite the heavy internal investments, however, 82 percent of respondents are not using hosted environments outside their own firewalls. The top barriers to adoption: Lack of control and immature technology.

BriefingsDirect contributor Jennifer LeClaire provided editorial assistance and research on this post.

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