Virtualization can be a boon to enterprises looking to consolidate servers and lower costs but a study of IT decision makers by Forrester Research concludes that several persistent issues keep companies from realizing the technology's full potential.
The "Strategies to Improve IT Efficiencies in 2010" study highlighted three main management challenges IT departments face when implanting virtualization.
For one, survey respondents noted difficulty in establishing how much server size is needed to support virtual containers. Second, the study said it can be difficult to assess the performance and workload of application candidates for virtualization. Lastly, the study said companies can encounter major performance issues at peak times due to resource contention between the virtual containers.
"Virtualization lowers the amount of hardware required and reduces power consumption to some extent," Scott Adams, director of product management at TeamQuest, said in a statement. "But it also raises management complexity, since there is no longer a permanent and exclusive relationship between physical resources and the software that runs on it."
Teamquest, which specializes in IT service optimization and capacity management software, sponsored the Forrester study.
"As virtualization and cloud computing battle for attention, IT organizations are realizing the value of embracing more mature processes that enable IT and business to work together," said Adams.
The study notes that the advent of virtualization and other technologies make it possible to provide an IT service for any task at low enough costs to benefit business productivity. But these tasks and workloads are added to the data center at a cost of further complexity.
"The major challenge for an IT organization is to effectively manage this complexity," the report stated. "As an immense amount of data is collected from monitoring infrastructures and applications, it has now reached a point where it is beyond the correlating capabilities of human beings."
Meanwhile, interest in the adoption of virtualization has increased since Teamquest sponsored a similar Forrester study in 2008. When Teamquest asked "What areas of your organization should be improved to make IT more efficient?" back in 2008, 47 percent of respondents chose "Reducing the infrastructure administration workload through server consolidation." This year, the percentage rose to 55 percent. Over 215 IT decision makers participated in each survey.
Another area of potential of IT consolidation and cost-savings is cloud computing. In the most recent survey, Forrester asked respondents which, if any, of four cloud-related technologies their organization planned to use in the next 12 months.
The results were clearly fragmented, with 18 percent saying their organization had no plans to use any form of the cloud.
Topping the list at 26 percent was "an internal/private cloud built on virtualization," followed closely at 25 percent by "a public cloud using SaaS" (Software as a Service) technology.
A public cloud through PaaS [Platform as a Service] or IaaS [Infrastructure as a Service]" came in at 18 percent followed by "a combination of public and private cloud" at 13 percent.
Of those who plan to implement some form of cloud computing, cost savings ranked as the biggest factor in their decision, with 70 percent saying the cloud "provides equivalent functionalities at a lower cost" and 68 percent noting "substantial administrative cost savings" as the reason for adoption. Over half (52 percent) said they are pursuing cloud computing because "it removes scalability and capacity planning issues for applications."
The full "Strategies to Improve IT Efficiency" report in PDF format is available here.