Four Priorities to Enhance the Virtualized Infrastructure
1. Four Priorities to Enhance the Virtualized Infrastructure
Here's a question every CIO will find familiar: How can I get more business value from
the data center?
Virtualization is certainly a step in the right direction. Virtualization can make the data
center more responsive to changing conditions and more scalable and flexible in the
pursuit of business goals—in short, more agile. Meanwhile, if implemented effectively,
virtualization can also significantly reduce costs. This combination is bound to please our
However, there is a difference between any given abstract idea and its best
implementation. And for organizations interested in taking advantage of virtualization to
create more business value, there are certainly better and worse ways to go about it.
Because each organization has a unique context—characterized by unique assets,
processes, strengths, weaknesses and business risks—each will require a unique strategy
to leverage virtualization to best effect. A CIO is chartered with developing that strategy
and adjusting it to fit the organization's needs as closely as possible.
IBM can help. Today, IBM offers a new, straightforward, logical framework, comprised
of four priorities, that today's CIO can use to create just such a strategy of virtualization.
Each priority in the framework is independent of the others—basically, a different lens
through which the CIO can perceive and improve virtualization in the data center. Some
priorities may not require as much time or investment as others to fulfill; depending on
what an organization has already accomplished, some may not apply at all.
Furthermore, the order in which they are presented here is merely a suggestion. While
many organizations will get excellent results via this sequence, they can actually be
pursued in any combination. The specific sequence should be chosen by the organization
as determined by its needs. Yet all four can help drive down costs, drive up performance,
and enhance business agility.
And together, they help ensure that the benefits of a virtualized infrastructure are not
merely an abstract possibility, but an operational reality—a reality that's been tailored for
the best business outcome.
Priority: Consolidate resources
This priority is probably the most familiar to today’s organizations because it reflects a
familiar description of most of today's data centers: thousands of relatively low-end
systems, each of which is utilized less than twenty percent of the time, but each of which
continually draws power and generates heat.
It stands to reason that fewer, higher-end systems, utilized better, will deliver a better
business outcome. Such an architecture makes the data center less physically complex,
2. increasing valuable floor space, while also minimizing the possible points of failure. The
direct result: by consolidating systems, IT will become more efficient and operating costs
Virtualization is the key technology needed to consolidate systems in this manner. Given
high-end hosts, capable of simultaneously running dozens or even hundreds of virtual
servers, the overall utilization of each host will be much higher than before—in many
cases, exceeding fifty percent. Yet the energy costs will be much lower. And because
each high-end system generates less heat than the equivalent number of low-end systems,
there is less heat to dissipate, translating into lower cooling costs as well.
Furthermore, the extensive physical resources of each host (processing power, memory,
or storage) can be allocated among those virtual servers flexibly, in proportion to
changing business requirements. This means that application and service performance
can scale up to meet demand (or scale back down when demand falls to reduce costs),
instead of being restricted by the minimal physical resources available on a low-end host.
Priority: Manage workloads
Another major priority in the IBM framework is workload management.
The ideal workload implementation would be this: all workloads are fulfilled, to all
targeted service levels, under even the most unpredictable and demanding conditions—all
while using the fewest resources. However, even given a virtualized infrastructure, that
outcome can be exceptionally difficult to achieve.
Part of the problem is that the management challenge will often increase through
virtualization. Where one application or service was previously typically supported by
one physical host—a relatively simple paradigm—that is no longer the case. Now, there
may be hundreds of virtual servers per host, and there may be hundreds of system images
associated with those virtual servers.
Managers may need more time and energy to track problems to root causes, or implement
new strategies, than they did before. The significantly increased technological complexity
will thus unfortunately generate unwanted costs over time, threatening to diminish the
potential business benefits promised by virtualization.
Workload management, then, is another priority to consider. Organizations will need to
simplify the overall management challenge via best-in-class, centralized tools that are
specifically designed for a virtual infrastructure, allowing managers easily to track status
levels, perform everyday tasks, and implement any required form of change previously
all under a single pane of glass.
Tools of this type, in fact, have the effect of abstracting out technical complexity. With
their help, managers can shift the focus from the technology per se to the business
outcome of the technology: the extent to which the infrastructure is fulfilling workloads
and hitting business targets.
3. And if a given service is not performing up to dynamically-changing requirements, more
resources can be allocated to it, quickly and fluidly. The result will be improved customer
satisfaction (for external services) or user productivity (for internal services), both of
which are crucial to overall business success.
Priority: Automate processes
What will be the swiftest, least-expensive response to changing conditions in a
In many cases, particularly those of an everyday nature, it will be an automated response.
Automation, where applied in a suitable context, delivers a far lower operational cost, a
far faster response time, and a much more consistent response by eliminating the need for
human oversight. While complex, sophisticated tasks will certainly require a dedicated
human intelligence, they should be the exception, not the rule.
As a simple example, consider the sequence of events involved in provisioning a virtual
server with an appropriate stack of software: OS, applications, middleware, drivers, data,
and other elements. An automatic provisioning process will be dramatically faster than a
manual provisioning process. It will also be completely consistent from case to case. This
means that any services or applications that rely on that virtual server will not fail as a
result of inadvertent human errors in configuration that might otherwise come into play.
Automation can enhance a virtualized infrastructure in many such respects. The terms of
service level agreements that specify ongoing performance levels, for instance, can more
easily be met if they are dynamically fulfilled through automation. Achieving compliance
with government mandates will be simpler and less expensive. Crucial processes such as
disaster recovery, involving predictable actions based on known resources, will certainly
be faster and more complete if automated, meaning the organization can minimize the
business impact of the disaster.
In short, automation can help make virtualized infrastructures more efficient, cost-
efficient, responsive, and available—even self-healing, in the event of everyday
Priority: Optimize service delivery
At the leading edge of virtualized infrastructures are those which have been truly
optimized for business goals—usually by putting business users in control as directly as
Consider this situation: a line-of-business manager, with no IT background, conceives of
a new service that would help his team (or that is needed by external clients/customers).
Rather than submit a request for the service through IT, this manager can instead
capitalize on an existing, highly-optimized virtual infrastructure to create the service
directly, over the Web, using any standard browser.
4. This compelling idea will certainly require an advanced virtualized architecture that has
been developed and optimized to facilitate it. One example of such an architecture: cloud
computing. Given a cloud, the time required to translate service ideas into actual, up-and-
running services can fall dramatically from weeks to hours. In parallel will fall costs:
management costs, operating costs, and even capital expenditure costs.
The result will be tremendous business agility with a relatively low price tag—both today
• Getting best results from virtualization will mean developing a tailored strategy
• IBM offers a new framework of four virtualization priorities designed to simplify that
• These four priorities are: Consolidate Resources, Manage Workloads, Automate
Services, Optimize Delivery
• They can be pursued in any order or depth the organization requires
Talking points: see above
Tweet tagline: Tailor your virtual infrastructure to your needs via IBM's priority
framework: Consolidate Resources, Manage Workloads, Automate Processes, Optimize
Abstract: For organizations looking to get more business value from virtualization,
IBM's new, modular framework of priorities can help—regardless of the infrastructure
currently in place. These four priorities—Consolidate Resources, Manage Workloads,
Automate Processes, and Optimize delivery—can be pursued at any necessary level of
depth, and in any sequence best suited to the organization's needs.
Tags/keywords: virtualization, priorities, consolidate, workloads, automate, optimize,
cloud computing, cloud, reduce costs.