Virtualization Check-Up: How's Your Strategy Shaping Up So Far in 2011?

How a top-to-bottom virtualization review inside your enterprise can help make your systems more efficient.

Once you finish any major IT project inside your enterprise, from an ERP deployment to a CRM upgrade to a SCM install, inevitably the real work for you and your IT team has only just begun.

That's certainly how it is with virtualization. Your enterprise saw all the promise and perceived benefits of virtualization, from increased application productivity and efficiency to higher availability, so you headed down that road, and good things started to happen.

Now you've got to keep it all up-to-date so it can continue to bring benefits to your business. So where do you start to make sure that all systems are still go?

I suggest a top-to-bottom, mid-year virtualization check-up where you can look at everything, check critical milestones, consider changes that need to be made and monitor your system's real world performance with an eye on constant improvement.

First, you need to ask yourself some questions to evaluate where your enterprise virtualization effort is right now.

*Is your chosen hypervisor still meeting your needs? Is it giving you the performance you expected and is it working well with your critical business applications?

*Do you have a long-term virtualization strategy in place so you can track your efforts over time and ensure that you are achieving optimal performance? Are you watching to be sure that your systems are meeting your targets?

*Does your virtualization effort make your business more agile and more efficient? If not, where can you make changes now to improve efficiency?

*Are you getting the virtualization performance that you expected? If not, what can be done to improve performance?

*How do you evaluate your virtualization performance? Are you running performance monitoring tools and conducting constant monitoring? Are you learning from the monitoring and making needed changes as you discover them?

*Are you running your virtualized servers and applications on private or public clouds? If you are doing your own private cloud, is it time to start looking at moving to a public cloud? What would you gain or risk by such a move? What are your peers doing inside similar companies? Is it time to look into these options or are you OK to stand pat?

*Have you talked to your virtualization vendors about new features they have added that you might want to incorporate in your systems? Would any of the new features help your business? Is an upgrade worth investigating and pursuing? Vendors are always adding new features and sometimes they are really worth bringing in for the improvements they can deliver. Taking the time to do a mid-year review can help you discover if any new features exist and if they are available.

Laura DiDio, principal analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, suggests you broaden your mid-year checklist to include other areas of virtualization.

One key issue that's on the minds of many of her clients lately, she says, is storage virtualization. "It's number one on their minds and it's even outpacing virtualized applications and virtualized desktop environments," DiDio says. "The storage needs of companies are always growing quickly and that means that people also need more efficient disaster recovery and backup for all of that stored data. You need to make more provisions for that."

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