Virtualization Technology News and Information
Keeping IT simple

Quoting from ITP Technology


Servers are going for (comparatively) cheap prices these days, making it much easier for companies to buy one when needed. As a result, many organisations have developed a habit of buying a new server each time they plan to install another enterprise application for their organisation, and dedicate a server to a single application.

Some even purchase servers for each of the key departments within their organisation. Hence, you will see companies that have separate accounting servers, marketing servers, engineering servers, and so on.

Because of that, many enterprises get what the industry calls server sprawl. It is a situation where companies end up owning multiple, under-utilised servers, which take up more space and consume more resources than can be justified.

Managing these servers is definitely a challenge, especially when servers are spread across multiple locations, says Desmond Nair, server manager, Microsoft Gulf.

“Because of the continuously low cost of acquisition of hardware, we are starting to see a lot of servers are being acquired by large organisations. What is happening is what we call server sprawl,” says Nair. “A lot of servers have been bought to do a lot of things in organisations. So they have reached a point now that they have so many servers that the complexity of managing these servers are causing issues and are a cost factor.”

Capacity utilisation — or the lack of it — is one of the biggest issues with server sprawl. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that on average the capacity utilisation of servers in a typical company is no more than 20%. The remaining 80% is largely wasted. For a company that has 100 servers, that is a huge waste of computing resources, considering the costs of maintaining these servers are not cheap.

“According to Gartner’s Martin Reynolds, enterprises that do not leverage virtualisation will pay up to 40% more in acquisition costs by 2008 and roughly 20% more in administrative costs,” says Khaldoun Aboul-Saoud, regional manager for market
development, Intel Gulf.

To fight the rising costs brought about by swelling data centres, many enterprises are slowly turning to server virtualisation to eliminate unnecessary maintenance expenses.
Virtualisation, while not a new technology, is still considered an emerging one in the Middle East. Contrary to what is happening in Western Europe and the US, server virtualisation is just starting to make its mark in the region.

“Virtualisation is not new. Virtualisation existed in the mainframes many decades ago,” says Rajmohan Peruri, channel account manager of Magirus Middle East, which is the regional distributor of VMware solutions. “[But] the virtualisation market is very much in the nascent phase here in the Middle East, not so much in the western world. It is already in the third generation,” he adds.

“I would classify it as an emerging technology in the region,” agrees Ryan D’Souza, product manager, industry standard servers, HP Middle East. “However, in most of Western Europe and the US, it is being adopted to a much greater extent. In terms of adoption, customers in the region are not yet comfortable with virtualisation. A lot of concentration in the market is still resting in the maturity as far as going for virtualisation technology is concerned,” D’Souze said.

Slow takeup

D’Souza says that for the most part the Middle East is still toying around with the idea of virtualisation. “There are some customers who have gone down the path of evaluating the benefits that they would get out of virtualisation. There are a lot of customers who are still in that evaluation phase,” he claims.

Nair believes the reason for the slow growth, particularly in the past, is twofold: the high acquisition cost of virtualisation solutions and the lack of technical skills to support the technology.

“The industry, as a whole, has a lot of technologies out there, which offers virtualisation solutions, but they were very expensive in terms of acquisition. It’s also partly because there were not a lot of very in-depth technical skills to get these products deployed and used in their environment,” Nair says.

“Virtualisation is not simply bringing your servers together and trying in some middleware or something like that,” agrees D’Souza. “You have to look at other considerations, such as the cost it will take, how you redeploy your equipment, the licensing schemes for your software and applications, the compatibility between your software and applications, and so on. There is a lot of work that goes into defining a strategy as opposed to just testing them out,” he adds.

Yasser Ragaei, business manager for enterprise systems at Hewlett-Packard Middle East, says the slow uptake of virtualisation in the region is the result of the typical behaviour of local companies when faced with new or unproven technology.

“Customers normally need to see a reference. They need to see somebody else in the same industry, in the same country deploying the same thing. That is why things start slow, especially in the Middle East, because in the Middle East people are more conservative and IT is not different from other areas,” Ragaei reasons.

That is why, he adds, HP is actively pushing to get more local customers to talk about their virtualisation projects to encourage their peers to try the technology as well.
“We are getting references now, and we are making them visible so that other customers can understand and even talk to these customers and see what business values and benefits they get from the virtualisation capabilities that HP provides. Hopefully, that will encourage them more to deploy virtualisation. And once you get more customers deploying it, you will give more confidence to other customers and it will keep increasing on both sides. More references will get you more sales and if you get more sales you get more references and so on,” he goes on to say.

Microsoft, according to Nair, is also trying to get its virtualisation message across the region. He says it is getting positive feedback from the customers it talks to, and believes that the uptake of virtualisation will happen soon.

“We started to see quite an uptake. In fact, we have over 2,000 downloads of the Virtual Server technology happening in the region, which for me is a tremendous success considering that worldwide it’s just over 100,000 downloads,” Nair says.

“There is definitely an interest in this. For Microsoft, we are very excited that this is happening because it shows that customers are starting to use the technology and realise the business value,” he continues.

Early adopters of virtualisation in the region consist mainly of large enterprises, particularly those that come from the telecom and banking sectors.

“The banking and the telco sectors, because they have a lot of competition in the market, are the ones that are aggressively adopting virtualisation technology,” Ragaei says. “They have to capitalise on every opportunity or on every business change that happens in the market so that they can be more competitive and run before their competitors. By using virtualisation they are able to respond better to their customers and to capture every business opportunity around.”

Read the rest of the article, here.


Published Sunday, August 20, 2006 2:21 PM by David Marshall
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