Financial crisis challenging CIOs: VMware

New vSphere release may help CIOs beat recession

The global financial crisis is causing CIOs to jump through more hoops than ever to get their IT projects approved, according to VWmare’s APAC managing director Paul Harapin.

Speaking in Sydney at the launch of VMware’s vSphere 4, the company’s operating system aimed at helping organisations build internal cloud computing environments, Harapin said the recession was causing boards to scrutinise IT projects more closely than ever, putting pressure on CIOs to be extremely cost-conscious and allocate their expenditures strategically.

“What I’m hearing from CIOs is that everything is now driven from the board,” Harapin said. “They are asking, “How do we continue to do the things that are important to our business, but in an environment where there is a reduction of capital and operational expense?’”

“Before, business proposals would go up, [the board] would take a cursory look and sign them off. Now, they’re saying, ‘No, we’re not going to do that”. Or, ‘if we do, what’s going to happen to our business? Do we really need to do that?’”

Harapin's comments were made at the Sydney launch of VMware's new vSphere 4 technology on 21 April. VMware claims is touting vSphere 4 as the industry’s first operating system for building the internal cloud, enabling the delivery of efficient, flexible and reliable IT as a service.

Using vSphere 4, VMware claims users will be able to aggregate and holistically manage large pools of infrastructure -– processors, storage and networking –- as a flexible and dynamic operating environment.

Two organisations adopting the new VMware offering are the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), a VMware customer for the last six years, and hosting provider Melbourne IT, also an exisiting VMware customer.

According to Tony Marion, director of infrastructure at the ABS, using vSphere, the government body was able to reduce 300 physical servers to 70 and create some 1500 virtual machines running on those 70 physical servers.

It was also able to reduced its admin head count, used to run its infrastructure environment down from 30 people four years ago to just 7 staff presently, Marion said.

Melbourne IT CTO Glenn Gore said that with 3500 physical servers, 1000 virtual servers and 600TB of storage, unpredictability was the number one challenge in managing IT environments.

“Moving to [vSphere] wasn’t about consolidation but giving us greater flexibility. . . as we are in constant flux due to changes in how customers use our environment,” he said. “Thirty percent of our virtual machines are moved every 24 hours. Compare that with what’s capable with physical machines.”

According to Harapin, the recession was unlikely to stall too many virtualisation and cloud initiatives. However, for the internal cloud to grow more strongly, Harapin said the service provider community would have to “step up” and come to market with more relevant commercial offerings.

“You can see the start of that already with service providers offering disaster recovery services,” Harapin said. “They will charge you an fee and they will let you test and fail your virtual infrastructure on theirs. If you are running the Australian Open, for example. and you will have your infrastructure smashed for two weeks, you can now go and get two weeks of extra infrastructure to manage that.”

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