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Lack of Best Practices Is Hurting Virtualization

At the end of the day, virtualization is something that you do, as well as something you buy and implement

Those who approach virtualization these days are often taken aback by the complexity of the architecture when faced with the number of layers they must deal with to deploy virtualization. Most typically consider virtualization around data center optimization or private clouds, and find it difficult to get their bearings as they wade into their first virtualization project.

While the virtualization vendors do render assistance, the core issue is that those who deploy virtualization often need to deal with many domain-specific issues, such as architectural complexities around data, service, and process sharing and synchronization across virtualized environments. While there is a lot of information out there about what virtualization is, few understand the way to approach virtualization and the prevailing best practices. As a result, I hear about project after project that ends badly. Not due to the issues with the technology, but the results of creating the wrong solution and having to live with it. As one person put it, "We did not know what we were doing and it showed."

Core to this issue is that many believe the technology itself has magical powers, and that implementing VMware or Zen is the one and only step. Truth be told, this is an architectural exercise, thus many factors should be considered including the data and the use of data, services and the use of services, and processes and the use of processes.

For those who seek best practices in the world of virtualization, it may be best to look toward existing approaches and best practices around SOA. Core to SOA is the notion that we're going to break systems down to their functional primitives and built them up again as sets of architectural components, such as services, and align those services to meet the needs of the business.

What's critical here is to have a much better understanding of the business, the problem domain, and the underlying architectural components (e.g., data, services, and processes), before proceeding to the step that covers how all of that is going to work and play well in a virtualization environment. This intermediate step could be called: How to better configure the virtualization environment to meet the needs of the system or systems. It's a bit more work than you may have expected, but its well worth the effort, considering the risk that it removes.

In moving beyond the core architectural issues, we also need to consider governance, security, and testing, and the best practices around approaching those issues, and, most important, how you define success. Many of those who look to leverage virtualization have no idea what the core benefit is around their existing IT infrastructure, and thus need to establish a business case and goals that should be reached when implementing virtualization.

At the end of the day, virtualization is something that you do, as well as something you buy and implement. Those who do it wrong will fail, no matter what the technology can do. Those who define a healthy process around virtualization implementation will most often succeed. Who do you want to be?

More Stories By David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the Chief Cloud Strategy Officer at Deloitte Consulting, and was just named the #1 cloud influencer via a recent major report by Apollo Research. He is a cloud computing thought leader, executive, consultant, author, and speaker. He has been a CTO five times for both public and private companies, and a CEO two times in the last 25 years.

Few individuals are true giants of cloud computing, but David's achievements, reputation, and stellar leadership has earned him a lofty position within the industry. It's not just that he is a top thought leader in the cloud computing universe, but he is often the visionary that the wider media invites to offer its readers, listeners and viewers a peek inside the technology that is reshaping businesses every day.

With more than 13 books on computing, more than 5,000 published articles, more than 500 conference presentations and numerous appearances on radio and TV programs, he has spent the last 20 years leading, showing, and teaching businesses how to use resources more productively and innovate constantly. He has expanded the vision of both startups and established corporations as to what is possible and achievable.

David is a Gigaom research analyst and writes prolifically for InfoWorld as a cloud computing blogger. He also is a contributor to “IEEE Cloud Computing,” Tech Target’s SearchCloud and SearchAWS, as well as is quoted in major business publications including Forbes, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and the LA Times. David has appeared on NPR several times as a computing industry commentator, and does a weekly podcast on cloud computing.

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