New Challenges Emerging as Virtualization and Private Clouds Go Mainstream: Survey Reveals Discrepancy Between Project Goals and Reality
According to a recent study, seventy-six percent of enterprises that have implemented server virtualization indicated that security was a somewhat or extremely large factor in being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualized servers. Sixty-three percent listed security as a significant/extreme challenge to implementing server virtualization.
These statistics come from the results of Symantec’s 2011 Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey, a study that surveyed more than 3,700 respondents from 35 countries worldwide and examined how organizations plan to move business-critical initiatives to virtual and hybrid cloud computing environments.
The results revealed disparities between expectations and reality as enterprises deploy solutions such as storage virtualization, storage-as-a-service, and hybrid/private cloud technologies. CEOs and CFOs are concerned with moving business-critical applications into virtual or cloud environments due to challenges including reliability, security, availability and performance.
“Cloud computing represents a major shift within IT — changing from a traditional IT delivery to a service-provider model. Moving to the cloud is a complex evolution for many companies and it’s essential that IT and executives are aligned on initiatives,” said John Magee, vice president of virtualization and cloud solutions, Symantec. “Virtualization is an enabler for private and hybrid clouds and our survey shows that planning a seamless move is critical to achieving all the simplicity, affordability and efficiency that these environments have to offer.”
Gaps Between Expectations and Reality Show Market Evolution
Adoption of server virtualization is widespread, and more than 75 percent of organizations are discussing private and hybrid cloud deployments. Of the technologies evaluated in the survey, server and storage virtualization are the most mature with 45 and 43 percent of enterprises implementing. Private Storage-as-a-Service is the least mature with 36 percent adopting.
Early investments have revealed gaps between expectations and reality, which indicate that organizations are still learning what these technologies are capable of and how to overcome the new challenges they bring with them. They survey asked respondents about initial goals in server, storage, and endpoint virtualization; private Storage-as-a-Service; and hybrid/private cloud. Those who have already implemented were asked which goals they actually achieved. The difference between the two answers revealed an expectation gap.
• Server virtualization projects were most successful, with only a 4 percent average gap between expected and realized goals. The biggest gaps occurred in scalability, reducing capital expenditures and reducing operating expenditures.
• The average shortfall in storage virtualization was 33 percent, with disappointments coming in agility, scalability and reducing operating expenditures.
• Respondents reported an average gap between expected and realized goals of 26 percent with endpoint/desktop virtualization. They cited disappointments in new endpoint deployment, application delivery and application compatibility.
• Seventy-seven percent of organizations are considering private Storage-as-a-Service, but these projects are challenging to implement and fall short of expectations by 37 percent. For example, complexity reduction was a goal for 84 percent of respondents, but reached by only 44 percent.
Increasing Focus on Business-Critical Applications
Organizations investing in virtualization and hybrid/private cloud technologies tend to follow a similar path, starting by virtualizing less critical applications such as test and development environments and progressing to more important applications such as email and collaboration; line of business; eCommerce and supply chain; and ERP/CRM.
The survey revealed that organizations are leveraging virtualization for business-critical applications. Of enterprises that are implementing virtualization, more than half (59 percent) plan to virtualize database applications in the next 12 months. Fifty-five percent plan to virtualize Web applications, and 47 percent plan to virtualize email and calendar applications. Forty-one percent plan to virtualize ERP applications.
Organizations move slower when leveraging hybrid/private cloud technologies for business-critical applications.
An average of just 33 percent of business-critical applications such as ERP, accounting and CRM are in hybrid/private cloud environments. Respondents stated concerns over account, service, or traffic hijacking; authentication vulnerabilities; access vulnerabilities; disaster recovery; and encryption.
Quality of Service Challenges Emerge as Top Priorities
As virtualization and private cloud technologies become more widely adopted, the cost and performance of storage is becoming increasingly top of mind. More than half of respondents (56 percent) said storage costs somewhat or significantly increased with server virtualization. Of those in the process of virtualizing storage, the top three reasons for deployment include reducing operating expenses (55 percent), improving storage performance (54 percent), and improving disaster recovery readiness (53 percent).
Performance issues are a factor for the majority of organizations. Seventy-six percent of those who have implemented server virtualization stated that performance was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualized servers. Seventy-two percent of organizations that have implemented hybrid/private clouds cited performance as a significant/extreme challenge.
Among enterprises that have implemented server virtualization, reliability was the number one concern. Seventy-eight percent said it was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing mission-critical applications on virtualized servers. Of those who have implemented storage virtualization, 83 percent stated uptime and availability as an important goal.
IT and Business Executives Out of Synch on the Potential
According to the survey findings, 46 percent of CFOs who are implementing hybrid/private clouds are less than “somewhat open” to moving business-critical applications into those environments. Forty-four percent of CEOs are cautious about moving these applications.
Main concerns cited about virtualization and hybrid cloud deployments are reliability (78 percent), security (76 percent), and performance (76 percent).
In practice, many C-level concerns are unfounded based on responses from IT. For example, concerns about performance are a top reason cited for caution, yet 78 to 85 percent of those who deployed server virtualization achieved their goals related to performance.
Enterprise IT’s evolution to the cloud has a fair share of challenges, but also compelling rewards. Despite concerns, most enterprises are implementing virtualization and moving to a cloud computing future. For these enterprises, Symantec offers recommendations to help make the journey as smooth as possible.
• Ensure alignment between IT and executives in virtualization and cloud initiatives: It is important to show that you can address C-level concerns such as security and availability. Show that their concerns, while important, can be successfully overcome by leveraging existing best practices and robust solutions that ensure valuable information and critical applications are protected and highly available.
• Don’t operate in a silo when it comes to cloud computing: Virtualization and cloud initiatives are most successful when implemented as mainstream, comprehensive IT initiatives. Because they involve all aspects of IT (servers, storage, network, applications, etc.) they can fail when managed as siloed “special projects.” Rather, treat cloud as an IT-wide initiative with all departments included in planning and implementation.
• Leverage and modernize your existing infrastructure: Before you’re ready to implement hybrid/private cloud, make sure you are leveraging the existing infrastructure to achieve the same efficiencies and then modernizing it as needed. Convert static servers, storage and networking into a virtualized pool of resources. Replace static provisioning with self-service provisioning, and make sure to implement monitoring and metering to demonstrate value to the business.
• Set realistic expectations and track your results: Remember that despite the hype, cloud is a new and still maturing market. Do your homework to set expectations that are realistic, then follow up and track results to identify ways to improve project efficiency going forward.