Ian Goss-RossIan Goss-Ross

Virtual environments ease business chaos

Although many companies fear the disruption that may be caused by transforming their current infrastructures and storage solutions to virtualised environments, ultimately they will benefit from less complex, and overall better, IT operations.

“A major challenge encountered when building a virtual infrastructure is achieving a smooth transition from the physical to the virtual environment,” says Riaan de Leeuw, unified infrastructure group sales manager for EMC Southern Africa. “The only way to accomplish this is through detailed, meticulous planning.”

He advises that during this transition, the organisation reaches a point where both infrastructures are servicing applications and business. “It is most important to maintain a non-disruptive business process, and this can only be achieved through planning and a solid process. By conducting readiness assessments for infrastructure and application adoption processes, a smooth and painless process can be achieved.”

Says , CEO of Elingo: “When the business starts shopping for virtualisation technology, it soon realises the challenge to understanding the technology and its many applications, options and supporting hardware.”

He warns that it might be difficult to find exactly the right solution in terms of functionality and price for a specific company or enterprise. “What works for one company is not necessarily the optimum solution for another. Organisations often need to make sure they cover current requirements, and easily expand the functionality without completely replacing technology.”

According to De Leeuw, it is also paramount to ensure physical components required to service the virtual infrastructure are sufficiently agile and powerful. “Organisations undertaking the transition to a virtual environment are faced with new and different data types and need to transform data to knowledge so that their customers can leverage the business benefit. This requires strong integration points between physical and virtual that will deliver power, speed and ease of management.”

At the end of the day, says De Leeuw, the main challenges remain budget, data growth and .


That said, moving to a virtualised storage environment is becoming increasingly necessary.

According to Goss-Ross, storage consolidation is one of the basics required for virtualisation and is forcing companies to invest in new Tier 1 storage. “Storage consolidation in terms of migrating all the data from fragmented systems to a single location/system is not a trivial exercise and is possibly the reason why many SA companies are behind their own targeted schedules.”

De Leeuw explains that tiering enables organisations to increase physical efficiencies to deliver cost savings to business in a fully automated fashion.

“If you don’t have a single point of administration for your storage, your data will eventually become unmanageable,” Goss-Ross continues. “The IT department will not be able to effectively service existing and new business requirements and the business will find it is duplicating data, something that is impossible to manage manually. Furthermore, many companies are at risk with old infrastructure as it likely has inferior data protection/integrity mechanisms.”

Goss-Ross concurs, “Organisations that neglect to consolidate their storage platforms will experience complex IT infrastructures from a management perspective and will require key, costly resources to perform daily operational IT tasks. They will also find themselves spending their IT budgets on maintaining what they have rather than enhancing their IT Infrastructure to generate more effective solutions for the business.” There are plenty of benefits to moving to virtualised storage, all of them significant.

“Organisations will derive cost savings from data consolidation, where unified storage platforms play an integral role. Data growth rates are exponential, and flexible and agile infrastructures are required to adopt these fast-paced requirements,” says De Leeuw. According to Goss-Ross, the main benefits are business continuity supported quick deployment of new business applications, easier and better IT infrastructure administration, improved backup and disaster recovery, and improved by deploying multi-instance systems for multi-tenancy.

But the benefits do not end there, he assures. “By employing virtualisation, footprint and energy consumption can be reduced and are enabling companies to shrink back into existing server room and cabinet space. Furthermore, employing virtualisation technology in can bring business and IT closer to each other. Businesses may notice a complete change of attitude and a willingness to work together in a way that a salary increase or any other incentive cannot possibly achieve.”

With virtualisation established in more than 50% of large enterprises, according to Goss-Ross, the industry is adapting with increasingly beneficial technology. “Vendors are increasing processing power in order to provide more functionality on storage platforms and 2.5” drives are now becoming the standard. Nearline SAS drives can provide acceptable performance for many applications,” Goss-Ross explains.

“The latest developments in this space include: unified storage technologies capable of full integration with the organisation’s virtual infrastructure; FAST solutions for block, file and object storage; virtual provisioning of IT resources; seamless tiering of information between physical platforms; and scale-out network attached storage (NAS) architectures with single file systems capable of scaling to petabytes,” says De Leeuw.

“Most local organisations are adopting virtualisation at an aggressive pace as more and more recognise the adoption of consolidated IT infrastructures is key to addressing the data explosion,” he concludes.