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Friday, April 29, 2005

Managing IT Investments

In his April 2005 Strong Signals,column, John Parkinson writes: "Managing a portfolio of IT investments only gets harder when the benefits are unevenly distributed." I agree. It can be difficult to garner the capital required for investment in technologies that appear to have little or no short term ROI. Fortunately for me, I work in a company whose vision and strategy that includes IT investments.

John's column can be found here.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Server Virtualization: Back to the Future

Server virtualization is a hot topic these days. As IT leaders balance the need for better server utilization with the need to maintain costs, they are turning to products like VMware. In a nutshell, VMware allows for the creation of virtual servers.

Server virtualization is nothing new. 20 to 30 years ago mainframe providers like IBM were building software to allow their users to create virtual machines. The theory being that while users needed multiple systems, multiple mainframes were expensive to implement and maintain and often under utilized. VMs became a very popular alternative. You couldn't find a mainframe shop today that doesn't use VM...yes contrary to popular opinion mainframes still exist.

In the distributed world, virtual systems began to appear as people wanted to share applications across the network. Eventually terminal servers and virtual clients were created, allowing IT departments to centralize client maintenance, etc. Today we've come full circle with the whole virtual machine concept. Instead of filling our operations centers with server farms, we're turning to products like VMware to consolidate server management and increase efficiency. Sure there's the problem of what happens if we lose one of these consolidated servers running 20 or 30 virtual servers. But hey, that's what redundancy, back up, and disaster recovery are for.

My team is installing VMware. Our approach is initially to consolidate just our test servers. Using VMware we can completely mirror our production environment with a 10th of the hardware traditionally needed. How well will it work? That's yet to be determined. However according to the industry folks I talk to, companies are rapidly pursuing VMware for server virtualization.

For more information read the following ComputerWorld article: Virtualization Creates Need For More-Resilient Servers.

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