Moving toward the virtual data center

Virtualization – the process of abstracting hardware functions to a software level – is one of the signature advancements of modern computing, allowing companies to consolidate their server footprints and increase the flexibility of their infrastructure. With virtualization, businesses can quickly create new virtual servers and move workloads from one physical location to another on a software level. As server virtualization becomes increasingly standard in the data center, companies are beginning to look at other forms of virtualization that can also be applied to increase flexibility, such as storage virtualization and network virtualization. With virtualization in all its forms becoming more important for managing a data center, companies are turning to managed services partners to help.

InformationWeek’s 2013 Virtualization Management Survey found that 72 percent of companies reported extensive use of server virtualization, and just 4 percent had no plans for use. In comparison, only 22 percent reported extensive use of storage virtualization, with 28 percent saying they had no plans for use, and a mere 11 percent reported extensive network virtualization, with 44 percent saying they had no plans for use. The main drivers for virtualization included operational flexibility and agility (56 percent) and business continuity (55 percent).

“Undoubtedly, a fully virtualized data operation offers many advantages,” ITBusinessEdge’s Arthur Cole wrote in a recent column. “Aside from the lower capital and operating costs, it will be much easier to support mobile communications, collaboration, social networking and many of the other trends that are driving the knowledge workforce to new levels of productivity.”

The evolving virtual data center
At the same time, Cole cautioned, much of the virtual technology that extends beyond server virtualization is still in its early phases. As a result, companies may encounter challenges as they look to enjoy the management benefits of abstracting elements of their data centers. A trusted data center partner can help businesses evaluate and implement emerging technologies, and even oversee transitions such as server virtualization and consolidation.

The standard for what counts as a virtualized data center is set to evolve in the coming years as more physical components are virtualized, and businesses will want to be at the cutting edge of whatever emerges. By outsourcing some infrastructure management tasks to a trusted third-party provider, they can ensure they are adopting these innovations even if they do not have the in-house technical expertise or capital to make the changes. To keep close tabs on the move toward the virtual data center, a managed services and IT consulting partnership is essential.