April 30, 2012, 3:18 PM — Enterprises are virtualizing more and more of their workloads. The benefits are well-known: consolidation and infrastructure efficiency; faster provisioning of applications and better configuration management; universal high-availability services; automated resource optimization, and dynamic scaling of applications.
However, even as businesses realize these benefits, many are lagging in transitioning their tier 1 applications--the mission-critical apps that could benefit the most from virtualization.
"What we find is that customers virtualize anywhere from 40 to 60% of their estate before they come to their business critical apps," says Parag Patel, vice president of alliances at VMware, though he notes that the majority of VMware customers are well over 50% virtualized at this point.
Virtualizing Tier 1 Apps Is a Critical Step Toward the Cloud
"Virtualizing tier 1 applications is critical to the success of a private cloud," Gary Chen, research manager for Cloud and Virtualization System Software at IDC, writes in a white paper:
"To deliver the most value, the private cloud must encompass the majority of workloads already in use and reduce the number of fragmented resource silos that lie outside the cloud. This allows organizations to take advantage of the economies of scale for optimal infrastructure efficiency. In addition, many of the advanced features of the cloud that transform applications from static entities into dynamic IT services will be the most value to mission-critical, complex applications. For example, a simple print server will probably not benefit greatly from dynamic scaling features, but a critical customer-facing Web application would benefit greatly."
In many ways, virtualizing your business is a three-step process (with lots of mini-steps along the way). In general, Patel notes, businesses start their virtualization journey with IT assets and departmental servers. These businesses are seeking to consolidate infrastructure and to reduce Capex in favor of OpEx. The second step involves a focus on business production, as the business takes its business-critical assets and virtualizes them. The final step is automation, which is about leveraging virtualization for an autonomously managed and scalable infrastructure that Patel terms "Cloud-era Architecture" and IDC's Chen calls "Virtualization 3.0."