Server Consolidation & Virtualization–Are Finished?

I recently discovered Joe Onsick’s blog, Define the Cloud, and having read through several of his posts, one particular quote caught my attention:

Typically consolidation and virtualization are the foundation of these [cloud] architectures and advanced management, monitoring and automation systems are layered on top. via Building a Private Cloud — Define The Cloud.

It may be obvious to many but, “Consolidation and Virtualization” are usually two initial steps that are identified in any transformation to the cloud, be it public or private.

Before I continue with the discussion on consolidation and virtualization, I’d like to officially welcome to Joe to World Wide Technology.  Joe is a 12-year industry veteran, a cloud computing thought leader and now our, new Unified Computing Practice Manager.  He started with us a few weeks ago and has already been engaged in several client projects.  In addition to his role as Practice Manager, Joe will be joining forces with Dave Harrison, John Berrett, Kent Noyes, Mike Jennings and others in helping with our popular day-long and very much hands-on UCS Training sessions that have been delivered across the US.

Back to consolidation and virtualization…  These steps are discussed in conversations with our partners and customers all of the time, including a notable strategy call a couple of weeks ago with one of our federal OEM partners and again this week with an “emerging” partner who specializes in “building, optimizing and transforming” private cloud infrastructure.

Whether it’s Cisco, HP, NetApp, Oracle/Sun or EMC, consolidation and virtualization have been key elements in the data  center strategies of these industry leaders long before “cloud” became in vogue.  More often than not, these two steps are often undertaken concurrently in many projects since virtualization technology enables large scale consolidation.  And it’s the consolidation step that “forces” IT organizations to understand their application strategy, the underlying IT infrastructure and the SLA’s necessary to support their end-users.  Through the consolidation process, organizations are compelled to create their “Services Catalog” and a self awareness about their often very complex environments.

Like many over-hyped technologies, I believe cloud computing has obscured what’s really going on in enterprise data centers. Every day, we are having discussions with clients about cloud computing and many of them are still in the process of defining and understanding their service catalog and are in the process of consolidating and virtualization what they have today.

Even our largest clients are still in the throes of these initial steps and are a far cry from cloud computing and that includes major federal agencies, financial institutions, and service providers.

Or are they?

Is it that Cloud Computing  (I saw it called just “Cloud” in Cisco CTO, Padmasree Warrior’s new white paper) in fact is a holistic framework and that consolidation and virtualization are key elements in Cloud.  I’m convinced that customers can gain some of the most significant benefits associated with Cloud by “fully” executing on a consolidation and virtualization effort.  Many, if not most, are still at a 20-30% plateau and to realize the full potential benefit need to drive that number up.  It’s not always easy with software vendors and internal politics getting in the way.

Ultimately, the more elusive cloud benefits of “pay as you go” and “massive, endless scalability” are enabled by orchestration software (the new buzz word) or what Joe explains as the “advanced management, monitoring and automation systems are layered on top” of a virtualized and consolidated infrastructure.

One response to “Server Consolidation & Virtualization–Are Finished?

  1. Bob,

    Thanks for the welcome! Great perspective here on cloud and what it means. I’m thrilled to be part of a team that can deliver on the concept/vision of cloud from the data center walls to the provisioning portal!


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