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FCW : February 2013
erver virtualization is entrenched in govern- ment agencies as a result of mandates such as the Of ce of Management and Budget's Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative. Even though there are still arguments about the bene ts that are claimed for virtualiza- tion, budget pressures and other requirements, such as the need for agencies to boost teleworking, are now putting a focus on other technologies such as desktop and application virtualization. Some agencies are being more aggressive than others. The Cen- sus Bureau, for example, insti- tuted a "virtualization rst" policy in 2011 that puts the onus on IT users to justify why their needs cannot be met through virtualiza- tion. Since it was put in place, the bureau has virtualized nearly 80 percent of its new server builds. Other agency executives say that, given the budget constraints, they don't have a choice. "If I stay the same course and make no changes, then I know my operations and maintenance tail is going to eat me alive, and virtu- alization is one of the tools we'll be using to handle the tight scal climate," said Adrian Gardner, CIO at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. With the move to virtualiza- tion, however, come infrastructure issues that also need attention. Contention is one, just as it is in the physical infrastructure. But be- cause virtual machines can be cre- ated on the y, many more servers than are in the physical infrastruc- ture will be accessing resources such as shared storage systems. "I would say that the interac- tion of virtualized servers with storage is not well understood," said Leena Joshi, senior director of solutions marketing at Splunk, a data management company. "When you virtualize servers, you actually mask the storage be- hind it. Yo u could be attached to network-attached storage, iSCSI or Fibre Channel on the back end, and your virtual machines would not be able to tell what they are attached to." Those problems will only in- crease as things such as desktop virtualization proliferate. Issues with desktop images that PCs would mostly handle locally will now have to be managed centrally, which will put heavy demands on the network and storage systems. And agencies shouldn't expect that their experience with server virtualization will relate directly to the desktop version. The learning curve could be steep, and there will be a need for new and expanded skill sets in agency IT departments in order to provide the expertise that's required. That could only worsen in the future because some expect that virtualization itself will start to branch off into specialized class- es. In that scenario, virtualization will become a portfolio of capabili- ties that will require experts who understand how all the different pieces come together. Sponsored Report VIRTUAL INFRASTRUCTURE The benefits for virtualization are obvious but still need to be sold FULL REPORT ONLINE Go to FCW.com/2013VirtualInfra 2. The advance of virtualization puts the focus on infrastructure needs 3. Desktop virtualization has its own infrastructure needs 4. If you want virtualization success, look to storage 5. IT skills needed for virtualization are familiar but different Other Virtual Infrastructure Report Articles
March 15, 2013