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Gartner Identifies Six Best Practices Companies Should Consider Before They Virtualise Their Servers

Analysts Will Examine the Future of Virtualisation During Gartner Emerging Trends Symposium/ITxpo 2008, 12-15 May, in Barcelona

(PresseBox) (STAMFORD, Conn., ) Virtualisation will be the most-important trend for servers through 2012, but there are six basic best practices enterprises should consider before they virtualise their servers, according to Gartner, Inc.

While the return on investment (ROI) is compelling, virtualisation can be implemented badly in costs, management strategy, approach, architecture and software. Many of these problems can be avoided if organisations make the proper assessments before they virtualise their machines.

"In the next five years, the immature server virtualisation market will mature, as competition evolves and forces changes in pricing," said Phil Dawson, research vice president at Gartner. "Most organisations can't afford to wait for the market to mature - server sprawl, data center space and power problems are here now. Organisations deploying at least 50 virtual machines per year will be able to build a business case with rapid ROI now."

"With the right virtualisation approach and strategy, and with a long-term plan on the changes that virtualisation will make to server management processes and tools, organisations will effectively leverage virtualisation now and will re-architect their servers to become a more efficient, fluid pool of dynamic capacity," Mr Dawson added. "Not only will data center space and power problems be resolved, at least temporarily, but IT will become a much more efficient and flexible provider of server capacity to its customers."

Gartner analysts have had thousands of client interactions on x86 server virtualisation since 2001, and the most-common questions revolve around best practices for starting a server virtualisation project. Based on conversations with more than 1,000 clients who are on their way to a mature virtualised server architecture, Gartner has identified the six best practices to consider for companies virtualise their servers.

Start Small, Think Big

Although OEMs and consultants will recommend large-scale server virtualisations, Gartner advises that from a cost, management and cultural point of view, starting small is the right way to go. There are two very different phases to server virtualisation deployments. The first phase focuses on server consolidation, cost savings and increased hardware use. The second phase is more strategically important, more complex to implement and provides far more value for the customer. In this phase, the focus shifts to delivering new services or improving the quality and speed of service.

Require a Rapid ROI

Because the market (and therefore pricing) is evolving rapidly, organisations need to build a business case with a rapid return on investment. Gartner recommends that a business case for server virtualization should show a full return on investment within six months or less. Generally, companies deploying 50 virtual machines or more in a year will be able to make a good business case.

Virtualize the Right Applications

Not every application is a good choice for virtualisation. In particular, applications with high input output needs can be inefficient on virtual machines and applications that are effectively utilising established hardware are not going to generate savings. The best applications to focus on tend to be older, smaller packaged applications. The majority of virtual machines today are deployed in production roles, usually less-critical servers but increasingly in mission-critical roles.

Define Your Storage Strategy

Deciding how and where to store virtual images and application data are critical factors in determining how much agility companies get from virtualised deployments. For example, if a company stores virtual images on a direct-attached storage, then they will limit the ability to replicate or recover those virtual images, especially in the event of a failure. If the images are stored on a central storage system, then companies have the flexibility to access virtual images from any server connected to the storage system.

Understand Software Issues

Virtualisation has been such a rapid market trend that the software vendors are still in react mode in terms of their pricing and licensing for virtualised environments and their support policies. Gartner predicts that software pricing and licensing will remain problematic for the near future. Until new pricing models are found, users should seek to understand independent software vendor s (ISV s) pricing and licensing policies in as much detail as possible and accept that until ISV issues are resolved, smaller servers will be the norm.

Combine Virtual Machines Effectively

It is much more important to come up with a flexible process for dynamically relocating server capacity than it is to devise a perfect static consolidation mapping. Workloads change and being able to deal with these changes dynamically is a key goal, particularly in the early stages of virtualisation.

Additional information is available in the Gartner report "Best Practices Before You Virtualise Your Servers." The report is available on Gartner s Web site at

Gartner analysts will provide more detailed analysis on the future of virtualisation at the upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2008: Emerging Trends, 12-15 May at Palau de Congressos in Barcelona, Spain. Gartner Emerging Trends Symposium/ITxpo is Gartner s premier event focused on the emerging trends, technologies, business models and new management thinking poised to have a dramatic impact on business, the economy and society. More than 2,000 IT professionals from the world's leading enterprises, rely on Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo: Emerging Trends event to gain insight into how their organizations can use technology to address business challenges and improve operational efficiency. For more information, please visit