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13th June 2011

New Challenges Emerging As Virtualization And Private Clouds Go Mainstream

symantec canadaSymantec Corp. has revealed the findings of its 2011 Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey which examined how organizations plan to move business-critical initiatives to virtual and hybrid cloud computing environments. The survey highlighted topics including server, client, and storage virtualization, storage-as-a-service, and hybrid/private cloud technologies; and the results uncover disparities between expectations and reality as enterprises deploy these solutions. CEOs and CFOs are concerned with moving business-critical applications into virtual or cloud environments due to challenges including reliability, security, availability and performance. The survey is based on more than 3,700 respondents from 35 countries worldwide, including 200 respondents from Canada.

“Cloud computing represents a major shift within IT – changing from a traditional IT delivery to a service-provider model.  Moving to the cloud is a complex evolution for many companies and it’s essential that IT and executives are aligned on initiatives,” said John Magee, vice president of virtualization and cloud solutions, Symantec.  “Virtualization is an enabler for private and hybrid clouds and our survey shows that planning a seamless move is critical to achieving all the simplicity, affordability and efficiency that these environments have to offer.”

Adoption of server virtualization is widespread, and more than 75 percent of organizations are discussing private and hybrid cloud deployments.  Of the technologies evaluated in the survey, server and storage virtualization are the most mature with 45 and 43 percent of enterprises implementing.   Private Storage-as-a-Service is the least mature with 36 percent adopting.

Early investments have revealed gaps between expectations and reality which indicate that organizations are still learning what these technologies are capable of and how to overcome the new challenges they bring with them. We asked respondents about initial goals in server, storage, and endpoint virtualization; private Storage-as-a-Service; and hybrid/private cloud.  We then asked those who have already implemented which goals they actually achieved.  The difference between the two answers revealed an expectation gap.

  • Server virtualization projects were most successful, with only a 4 percent average gap between expected and realized goals.  The biggest gaps occurred in scalability, reducing capital expenditures and reducing operating expenditures.
  • The average shortfall in storage virtualization was 33 percent, with disappointments coming in agility, scalability and reducing operating expenditures.
  • Respondents reported an average gap between expected and realized goals of 26 percent with endpoint/desktop virtualization.  They cited disappointments in new endpoint deployment, application delivery and application compatibility.
  • Seventy-seven percent of organizations are considering private Storage-as-a-Service, but these projects are challenging to implement and fall short of expectations by 37 percent.  For example, complexity reduction was a goal for 84 percent of respondents, but reached by only 44 percent.

These gaps are a hallmark of early stage markets where expectations are out of step with reality.  As the virtualization and cloud markets continue to mature, we expect to see those gaps close.

Organizations investing in virtualization and hybrid/private cloud technologies tend to follow a similar path, starting by virtualizing less critical applications such as test and development environments and progressing to more important applications such as email and collaboration; line of business; eCommerce and supply chain; and ERP/CRM.

The survey shows that organizations are leveraging virtualization for business-critical applications.  Of enterprises who are implementing virtualization, more than half (59 percent) plan to virtualize database applications in the next 12 months.  Fifty-five percent plan to virtualize web applications, and 47 percent plan to virtualize email and calendar applications.  Forty-one percent plan to virtualize ERP applications.

We found that organizations are more slowly leveraging hybrid/private cloud technologies for business-critical applications.  An average of just 33 percent of business-critical applications such as ERP, accounting and CRM are in hybrid/private cloud environments. Respondents stated concerns over account, service, or traffic hijacking; authentication vulnerabilities; access vulnerabilities; disaster recovery; and encryption.

As virtualization and private cloud technologies become more widely adopted, the cost and performance of storage is becoming increasingly top of mind.  More than half of respondents (56 percent) said storage costs somewhat or significantly increased with server virtualization.  Of those in the process of virtualizing storage, the top three reasons for deployment include reducing operating expenses (55 percent), improving storage performance (54 percent), and improving disaster recovery readiness (53 percent).

Seventy-six percent of enterprises who have implemented server virtualization indicated that security was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualized servers.  Sixty-three percent listed security as a significant/extreme challenge to implementing server virtualization.

Performance issues are a factor for the majority of organizations.  Seventy-six percent of those who have implemented server virtualization stated that performance was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing business-critical applications on virtualized servers.  Seventy-two percent of organizations that have implemented hybrid/private clouds cited performance as a significant/extreme challenge.

Among enterprises that have implemented server virtualization, reliability was the number one concern.  Seventy-eight percent said it was a somewhat/extremely large factor in keeping various constituents from being more confident about placing mission-critical applications on virtualized servers.  Of those who have implemented storage virtualization, 83 percent stated uptime and availability as an important goal.

According to the survey findings, 46 percent of CFOs who are implementing hybrid/private clouds are less than “somewhat open” to moving business-critical applications into those environments.  Forty-four percent of CEOs are cautious about moving these applications.

Main concerns cited about virtualization and hybrid cloud deployments are reliability (78 percent), security (76 percent), and performance (76 percent).

In practice, many C-level concerns are unfounded based on responses from IT.  For example, concerns about performance are a top reason cited for caution, yet 78 to 85 percent of those who deployed server virtualization achieved their goals related to performance.

Despite the similarities in security challenges, concerns and expectations versus realized goals when adopting virtual and hybrid cloud solutions, survey findings indicate that Canadian businesses are still ahead of many organizations around the world when it comes to implementing these new technologies.

According to the survey, 60 percent of Canadian companies are implementing server virtualization, while less than half (45 percent) have adopted server virtualization globally. Among enterprises that are implementing virtualization, 77 percent of respondents indicated that they plan on virtualizing database applications in the next 12 months. The survey also found 40 percent of Canadian respondents are moving into the hybrid/private cloud, compared to 35 percent globally.

Enterprise IT’s evolution to the cloud has a fair share of challenges, but also compelling rewards.  Despite concerns, most enterprises are implementing virtualization and moving to a cloud computing future.  For these enterprises, Symantec offers recommendations to help make the journey as smooth as possible.

  • Ensure alignment between IT and executives in virtualization and cloud initiatives: It is important to show that you can address C-level concerns such as security and availability. Show that their concerns, while important, can be successfully overcome by leveraging existing best practices and robust solutions that ensure valuable information and critical applications are protected and highly available.
  • Don’t operate in a silo when it comes to cloud computing: Virtualization and cloud initiatives are most successful when implemented as mainstream, comprehensive IT initiatives.  Because they involve all aspects of IT (servers, storage, network, applications, etc.) they can fail when managed as siloed “special projects.”  Rather, treat cloud as an IT-wide initiative with all departments included in planning and implementation.
  • Leverage and modernize your existing infrastructure: Before you’re ready to implement hybrid/private cloud, make sure you are leveraging the existing infrastructure to achieve the same efficiencies and then modernizing it as needed.  Convert static servers, storage and networking into a virtualized pool of resources.  Replace static provisioning with self-service provisioning, and make sure to implement monitoring and metering to demonstrate value to the business.
  • Set realistic expectations and track your results: Remember that despite the hype, cloud is a new and still maturing market.  Do your homework to set expectations that are realistic, then follow up and track results to identify ways to improve project efficiency going forward.

Symantec’s Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey is the result of research conducted in April 2011 by Applied Research, which surveyed IT and C-level professionals responsible for computers, networks and technology resources at small, medium, and large enterprises (defined as 1,000-2,400, 2,500-4,999, and 5,000+ employees). The report was designed to gauge how organizations plan to move mission-critical initiatives to virtual and hybrid cloud computing environments.  The survey included more than 3,700 respondents from 35 countries in North America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Asia Pacific and Latin America.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011 at 11:05 am and is filed under Business News, National News, Research Studies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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