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Getting Server Virtualization from Here to There

September 2, 2008 - 0 Comments

So I have had the opportunity over the last few weeks to talk to a number of folks about server virtualization–likes, dislikes, where its going. Depending on your choice of market research or anecdote, it seems that the number of virtualized production x86 servers in the the neighborhood of 10%. Again, depending on your favorite flavor of Kool-Aid, the expectation is for this to jump to 40-60% in the next 2-3 years. Even the most conservative scenario shows a significant increase in server virtualization.The question I have–and I’d love to hear from folks who have deployed some form of server virtualization–is what needs to happen in your data center to make the jump from 10% to the aforementioned 40-60% range. Do you see any inhibitors to having more of your servers virtualized?One of the areas we see some challenges is around ensuring network and storage services follow virtual machines as the undergo live migration. More than one customer has noted the challenges of using VMotion or DRS in a VMware environment. There are certainly workarounds, but they are often operationally burdensome, and what may work when you have 10% of your production servers virtualized may not be tenable when half your servers are virtualized. Because, by its nature, there is a degree of abstraction in server virtualization, I have also heard a number of concerns around areas like troubleshooting and regulatory compliance.As always, the industry is evolving to meet these new challenges. For example, one of the advantages of unified fabric is the ability to deliver a consistent set of network and storage services to all the attached servers in the data center, which simplifies live migration to some degree. However, there still seem to be gaps. Some gaps might be technological, while others might be more along the lines evolving the org structure to deal more effectively with shared, virtualized infrastructure.Anyway, what do you think–what needs to happen to drive a higher rate of virtualization for production servers?

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