7 tips for succeeding with virtualization

Experts share best practices for optimizing strategic virtualization initiatives

"We didn't have anything to monitor the virtual switch layer, and for me to try to monitor at the virtual port was very difficult. It was impossible to tell which virtual machine is coming from where," Portolese explains. "You will get caught with major egg on your face if you are silly enough to think you don't have to monitor all traffic on the network."

6. Charge back for virtual resources

Companies with chargeback policies should apply the practice to the virtual realm, and those without a set process should institute one before virtualization takes off.

Converting physical resources to virtual ones might seem like a no-brainer to IT folks, who can appreciate the cost savings and administration changes, but business units often worry that having their application on a virtual server might affect performance negatively. Even if a company's structure doesn't support the IT chargeback model, business units might be more willing to get on board with virtualization if they are aware of the related cost savings, Forrester's Staten says.

"IT can provide some transparency to the other departments by showing them what they can gain by accepting a virtual server. This includes lower costs, faster delivery against [service-level agreements], better availability, more-secure disaster recovery and the most important one -- [shorter time to delivery]. It will take six weeks to get the physical server, but a virtual server will be over in more like six hours," Staten says.

In addition, chargeback policies would be an asset to IT groups looking to regain some of their investment in virtualization. At Hasbro, IT absorbs the cost of the technology while the rest of the company takes advantage of its benefits, Ward says. "The cost of physical machines comes out of the business department's budget, but the cost of virtual machines comes out of the IT budget," he says.

7. Capitalize on in-house talent

IT organizations also must update staff to take on virtualization. Certification programs, such as the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) and Microsoft's Windows Server Virtualization, are available, but in-house IT staff must weigh which skills they need and how to train in them. "Certifications are rare, though I do have two VCPs on my staff. Most IT professionals who are able to take the exam and get certified would probably work in consulting," says Robert Jackson, director of infrastructure at Reliance Limited Partnership.

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