7 things that will sink virtualization

Experts reveal potential pitfalls

3. Don't neglect the human factor.

It's naïve to pretend virtualization is a simple matter of having staff manage more server instances, and doing so could wreak havoc, industry watchers say. Many argue that virtual servers can be managed alongside physical servers, but virtualization technology probably will reach across IT domains and require staff to become adept at deploying and managing virtual servers, desktops, storage and applications.

"Don't delay in assessing the personnel impact," says Cameron Haight, a Gartner research vice president. "Virtualization is becoming pervasive, so organizations need to adapt to meet the new realities that it presents -- developing a virtualization competency center, for example."

Virtualization champions can't limit their campaigns to the server group. Virtualization will touch all IT departments, and neglecting to get everybody's input will result in pushback.

"Trying to shoehorn a broad virtualization initiative into an unreceptive IT department, especially when the server group ignores the mandates from other departments like security, networking or storage, is another big problem," EMA's Mann says.

In addition to bringing virtual know-how into the current technical staff's skill set, IT cannot ignore the cultural changes virtualization will impose upon business units.

"There are also the human issues of dealing with business departments and assuming they will be happy to share 'their servers' -- the ones they already paid for -- with other departments for no other reason than reducing IT's operating costs," Mann says.

4. Don't overload the virtual infrastructure.

Virtualization seems to perform magic across overwrought infrastructure by partitioning resources to handle more workloads, but that doesn't mean virtual servers are infallible.

The technology still has its limits, warns Jeremy Gill, CIO at Michael Baker, a civil engineering firm. "Don't put more virtual machines on infrastructure than it can handle," he says, citing his firm's practice of adding infrastructure once server utilization hits 70% to 75 percent.

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