Although virtualization has become a popular buzzword for the data center, it may not be a solution you are ready for... yet. Deciding whether you want to add virtualization to your data center management arsenal takes careful thought because there are upfront considerations.
First, virtualization is a business decision, so you have to reflect on the value that virtualization will bring to server and storage environments. Be sure that the benefits are the ones you need, and prepare your staff and resources for them.
On the upside, virtualization permits consolidation of resources, saving hardware costs in many cases. It makes possible a tiered storage strategy, bringing high levels of efficiency to data management. Ease of replication is another, since a virtualized volume represents a single point of configuration and monitoring. That ease of replication is also reflected in the ability to support different hardware at each location supported by a virtual device.
On the other hand, the advantage of consolidating storage makes for bigger storage pools, with the attendant management requirements. Further, backing up a virtual machine may involve downtime, and more of your active systems may take a performance hit. Once you commit to a virtualization solution, it is harder to back out. There is additional software overhead, and there will be maintenance and configuration considerations. Those who virtualize without careful planning might find that there is some ambiguity about who has ownership of what data.
It might be sensible to consult your VAR when making a virtualization decision. They share your interest in an efficient storage infrastructure. Many resellers hold the opinion that storage virtualization is the next way VARs can help their customers reduce cost and increase their storage efficiency. This is because for most companies, the bulk of their IT spend is focused on storage, with about 70 percent of that storage cost spent after their storage solutions are purchased. Power and cooling, service, support, and maintenance are non-trivial areas of spending and VARs that can help customers manage those costs are providing valuable services.