There is a saying I’ve heard in virtualization circles that says something to the effect of “virtualization will show you how to get pregnant, but not how to raise a child.” In many senses that is true. I can’t think of a technology where you can more rapidly get into trouble by not considering some critical factors first. This is different than normal IT processes in that in a non-virtualized world, totally by chance of over-provisioning, we simply can avoid many potential issues that virtualization can bring.

All of that aside, virtualization brings wonderful benefits to IT organizations. For starters, virtualization can reduce costs and increase capabilities of an organization’s infrastructure requirements. To achieve these benefits, there is a learning curve accompanied by many questions on the “who will” and “how will” various aspects of the business requirements along the way. Last year, I recommended a few books for virtualization, including VMware vSphere Design. This book was written by Scott Lowe (not to be confused with the TechRepublic contributor by the same name!), Maish Saidel-Keesing, and Forbes Guthrie. In the VMware vSphere Design book, one of the pillars of the content is the priority to addressing how the operational aspect of virtualization will be addressed in the design. The operational aspect is represented in Figure A:

Figure A

I can’t agree more that this aspect needs to be addressed before technology is deployed and the stakeholders are depending on the infrastructure.

In my own personal experience, not just related to virtualization, I’ve dealt with situations where all of the requirements are not clearly defined. I don’t think I’m alone in that aspect, but with virtualization we really can’t deliver the best solution without all of the requirements properly defined. The ability to implement requirements about the operational aspects of a virtualized infrastructure are just as important as the technologies they deliver.

The takeaway is that not overlooking the operational aspects of virtualization can save us growing pains down the road. Specifically, the virtualization technology profile is a very agile offering if the organization has a plan about how to implement and leverage the technologies most effectively. I further see this as an area ripe for improvement since the initial wave of virtualization has appeared in many environments, but continues to reflect IT operational procedures of old.

How is the operational aspect of virtualization addressed in your organization? Is it cramping your ability to fully embrace virtualization? Share your biggest challenges below and let’s discuss them.