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5 virtualization management tips to live by

Kevin Fogarty, CIO | April 28, 2011
Neither cloud computing nor virtual servers were intended as agents that would change traditional IT organizations, says Rachel Dines, a researcher at Forrester Research who specializes in IT infrastructure and management. But IT organization and management issues are turning out to be nearly as important as the technology itself to making large-scale virtual-server migrations effective.

That relationship is both more and less work for IT -- because it requires a different set of rules and processes to allow end users to do more things for themselves, but still protect data that needs to be protected and not allow self-service to expand into capacity eating sprawl.

"You need a more real-time view of the environment and the ability to respond to it with mature process, not do it in an ad hoc way," he says.

4. Train, don't hire

All those organizational changes and new job requirements usually require a lot of new hires -- people with skills not present in middle management or the rank and file, according to John Reed, executive director at Robert Half Technology, the IT recruiting arm of Robert Half International.

"We're seeing a lot more job descriptions with cloud or virtualization in the description, and some change in descriptions. A lot of companies are saying the requirements are complex enough and knowledge of the company are so important that they prefer to train up people inside for the critical jobs," Reed says.

The most critical have the word "architect" in the title, and not just for the top job.

In virtual and cloud implementations, architecture is a combination of capacity planning, design and implementation, workload distribution and functional knowledge of the workloads being run on those virtual servers.

The need for bodies to do the work is too great to meet it only with retraining, however.

"The number of jobs posted for jobs with cloud computing or virtualization is growing daily, growing exponentially," Reed says. "Even job descriptions that aren't primarily cloud related -- networking or security analysts -- typically have some responsibility for handling those functions as they relate to the cloud, protecting data as it moves back and forth, or working with an external app vendor to set layers of security for specific apps in specific circumstances.

"We're definitely seeing a major transition in the marketplace," Reed says.

5. Fight to Automate

Process maturity and automation aren't exactly he same thing, but they overlap a lot, according to Frank Gillett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.

Most companies aren't ready to make large-scale organizational changes to accommodate virtualization, even if they really believe in the technology, Gillett says.

Critical as the organizational issues are, automating security, provisioning policies and all the other disparate demands of virtualized infrastructures takes a lot of technology as well.


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