As companies prepare to refresh the first generation of virtualised IT infrastructure, a forum of Australian industry experts has reminded CIOs that the benefits of a consolidated hardware footprint may be great but successful virtualisation must go hand-in-hand with strict risk management procedures if vulnerabilities in security, power, data management and disaster recovery are to be avoided.
The forum panel which met in Sydney today was moderated by Rodney Gedda, Senior Analyst, Telsyte, and included Richard Jenman, ANZ Managing Director, Eaton, Adrian Briscoe, General Manager – APAC, Kroll Ontrack, Pieter DeGunst, Sales and Marketing Director, Tecala, and Scott Robertson, Vice President Asia Pacific, Channels and Alliances, WatchGuard Technologies.
To date the shift towards a virtual IT infrastructure has largely focused on consolidation of computer room servers, driven by cost and efficiency benefits including lower hardware capital expenses, easier hardware administration, more efficient use of floor space and enhanced system availability. In 2012, Telsyte predicts that this focus will expand to include private clouds.
“Server virtualisation has ‘won the war’ with more than 50 per cent of Australian organisations using it in some way so the next step is private clouds,” Telsyte senior analyst, Rodney Gedda, said.
“Virtualisation on its own can facilitate improved server economics, but it also creates a new set of challenges, not least a greater overhead in systems management brought about by virtual server ‘sprawl’. One answer to this management overhead is with so-called private clouds which can automate management tasks and respond to business demands in a way previously too cumbersome for physical infrastructure.”
According to Telsyte, CIOs are now on the journey to private cloud computing with nearly 20 per cent of organisations building a private cloud using virtual server management software.
The panel cautioned that in the bid to maximise IT cost savings, some organisations are placing too much faith in their virtualised infrastructure and are cutting back on essentials such as scheduled backups and power protection. Jenman (Eaton) said, “In the past, organisations had one server per application. If a server went down, you lost that application. In the virtual environment this has changed so that if one server goes down it could take up to fifty applications with it. Protecting physical hardware from outages and failure has become more critical than ever before.”
Robertson (WatchGuard Technologies) said it's a similar situation with security. “We've gone from very closed-off, controlled perimeters within the network to a situation where the doors have opened up considerably. On a single server there may be different sets of firmware, software and operating systems. Security is no longer just a simple task of putting a firewall in front of a server. Companies adopting virtualisation should consider partitioning the server with virtual firewalls. If there's a problem such as a breach or virus on your ERP application, you don't want it to spread across to the CRM or accounting system.”
Virtualisation is also demanding a new approach to data protection and disaster recovery, with pitfalls arising due to user administration errors or events escalating outside of the disaster recovery plan. “With the impacts of unstructured data, BYOD [bring your own device] and regulations requiring organisations to hold electronic for longer, companies are struggling to find a comfort level regarding how to protect their data from loss. Although a large number of people believe if their data is in the cloud or on virtual equipment, it can't actually be lost, but it does happen. Data can still go astray,” Briscoe (Kroll Ontrack) said.
A recent Kroll Ontrack survey of over 700 IT professionals confirmed this vulnerability when it found that 69 per cent of organisations had experienced data loss within a virtual environment during the past 12 months. Almost half of all cases occurred due to operating error such as accidental deletion of virtual drives, formatting and re-installation errors. Despite this 50 per cent of companies back up their virtual servers on a weekly basis.
As virtual infrastructures are reviewed and refreshed over the next 12 months, the panel predicts there will be an increase in the adoption of private cloud solutions with organisations taking the opportunity to step up to the next stage in virtual computing.
DeGunst (Tecala) said, “When companies began to embrace virtualisation four or five years ago it was all about hardware consolidation and virtual server management. The private cloud places another layer on top of this to re-engineer management processes and introduce automation. We're all used to the savings of virtualisation but it's here in the private cloud that a new set of business-focused benefits lie such as people efficiencies, faster responsiveness to business changes, greater visibility and much more accountability of IT.”
The panel’s other key predictions for virtualisation in the year ahead are:
- There will be an increase in medium to large companies selecting hybrid virtual and private cloud solutions to support business continuity planning;
- Vendors are catching up: Expect the release of a raft of products and tools that will help CIPS to manage the virtual environment;
- Included among these will be more granular reporting and management tools;
- The drive for automation will see greater integration of tools with the hypervisor;
- It's not just companies that will be demanding these tools; Cloud hosts will be expected to provide similar offerings for their clients.
Eaton Corporation is a diversified power management company with more than 100 years of experience providing energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power. With 2011 sales of US$16.0 billion, Eaton is a global technology leader in electrical components and systems for power quality, distribution and control; hydraulics components, systems and services for industrial and mobile equipment; aerospace fuel, hydraulics and pneumatic systems for commercial and military use; and truck and automotive drivetrain and powertrain systems for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has approximately 73,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 150 countries. For more information, visit www.eaton.com
About Kroll Ontrack Inc.
Kroll Ontrack provides technology-driven services and software to help legal, corporate and government entities as well as consumers manage, recover, search, analyse, produce and present data efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition to its award winning suite of software, Kroll Ontrack provides data recovery, data destruction, electronic discovery, document review and ESI consulting services. Kroll Ontrack is a subsidiary of Altegrity, an industry-leading provider of information solutions. For more information about Kroll Ontrack and its offerings please visit: www.ontrackdatarecovery.com.au <http://www.ontrackdatarecovery.com.au>
About Tecala Group
Tecala Group is an Australian-headquartered ICT consulting and solutions provider organisation with a core focus of delivering optimised IT infrastructure solutions for medium and large-sized private and public sector organisations.
Tecala offers full service consulting, project management, integration and procurement expertise and typically works in projects and managed services, incorporating IT infrastructure, virtualisation, storage and information management, application delivery, backup and recovery, disaster recovery, business continuity, security, Unified Communications, service desk and ICT management and monitoring. Tecala can be reached at +61 2 8801 3458 or on the Net: http://www.tecala.com.au
Telsyte is Australia’s leading independent emerging technology analyst firm. Telsyte’s services help organisations make informed decisions and succeed in the Australian market. Telsyte analysts take pride in providing accurate, reliable and actionable insights and advisory services. For more information see www.telsyte.com.au <http://www.telsyte.com.au>
About WatchGuard Technologies, Inc.
ince 1996, WatchGuard® Technologies, Inc. has been the advanced technology leader of business security solutions, providing mission-critical protection to hundreds of thousands of businesses worldwide. The WatchGuard family of wired and wireless unified threat management appliances, messaging, content security and SSL VPN remote access solutions provide extensible network, application and data protection, as well as unparalleled network visibility, management and control. WatchGuard products are backed by WatchGuard LiveSecurity® Service, an innovative support, maintenance, and education program. WatchGuard is headquartered in Seattle and has offices serving North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. To learn more, visit http://www.watchguard.com
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