Virtually every new technology that has significantly enhanced enterprise IT has been adopted in phases. Early IT adopters are quick to capitalize, with some reaping the advantages of a first mover position. Further into this phased approach is the mainstream, and those in this category take their time and wait for bugs to be worked out, prices to drop, and risks to be all but eliminated. IT managers at the back-end of this curve are inevitably playing catch-up.
Somewhere in the middle of the adoption cycle is a tipping point—the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new, irreversible environmental change. The time it takes to reach that point will vary—sometimes months; other times years. But when it happens, it’s significant and noticeable.
Such appears to be the case with IT virtualization, which Wikipedia refers to as the abstraction of computer resources. Virtualization hides the physical characteristics of computing resources from their users. This includes making a single physical resource, such as a server, operating system, application, or storage device, appear to function as multiple virtual resources. It also can include making multiple physical resources, such as storage devices or servers, appear as a single virtual resource.
This isn’t a new concept. IT practitioners have been mapping out plans and strategies that could be described as virtualization for years. Today, virtualization is at, or fast approaching, its tipping point. Just about every major system and application vendors’ Website includes discussion of their virtualization solutions. One can hardly pick up an IT magazine or read a blog without seeing some discussion of the benefits and challenges of desktop, server, and data center virtualization.
In assessing virtualization, as with any new technology, prudent IT managers won’t jump head first into projects without doing some careful planning. This is particularly important when it comes to IT security. Too often, IT security is treated as an afterthought to deployment of virtualization technology. That can have serious consequences.
Data security should be at the forefront of any new enterprise IT virtualization initiative. IT managers must ensure they’ve explored every avenue and that their current security measures are strong and flexible enough to adjust to dramatic changes in the way users interact with critical data. They must implement a data security solution and associated policies that will protect their corporate assets in a virtualized computing environment.
The Virtual Era
As enterprises focus on reducing IT expenses without compromising IT capabilities, they’re realizing the benefits of transitioning to virtual computing environments. Here are a few strong arguments for making this shift:
• Lower overall IT costs: Cost efficiency has always been an IT priority, but doing more with less is becoming standard operating procedure as more companies face difficult global economic realities. So IT managers are exploring virtualization to help lower IT costs. Desktop virtualization lets organizations get more out of existing hardware, no mater where it’s located, and helps businesses easily manage multiple laptops or PCs.
• Reduced energy use: Energy conservation is a well-publicized issue these days and it affects businesses as much as individuals. By incorporating virtualization technologies and replacing power-hungry PCs and servers with energy-efficient thin clients and virtual servers, enterprises can increase output while simultaneously decreasing energy consumption.