You can’t afford not to invest in technologies that leverage virtualization to improve data center efficiency

There’s an old adage that says you have to spend money to make money. In the data center these days this is more true than ever. You have to invest in technology capable of making your data center more efficient in order to make (save) money. A recent Robert Half Technology survey of 1400 CIOs indicates that data center efficiency and virtualization are top priorities.

*CIOs were asked, "Which areas, if any, will your IT department be investing in over the next 12 months?" Multiple answers were permitted. Percentages reflect responses from 70 percent of the 1,400 CIOs who plan to invest in IT. The survey was conducted in January 2009.

  • Information security (43 percent): In any economy, protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information is a must-have for companies of all sizes. Technology executives in the financial services and transportation sectors cited security most often, with 59 percent and 58 percent of the responses, respectively.
  • Virtualization (28 percent): Added budget pressures are forcing many companies to focus on more cost-effective solutions for servers, storage and networking. Virtualization tools enable greater consolidation, lower hardware costs, and reduced space and power requirements. Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) CIOs at large (1,000+ employees) and midsize (500 to 999 employees) companies plan to invest in this area.
  • Data center efficiency (27 percent): Improving efficiency within the data center to achieve longer-term cost savings is a top priority for organizations pressured to cut back on IT spending. Companies are realizing that by not improving efficiency, it will result in the need for more costly expansions and upgrades in the future.

Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology said of the results, “Although times are lean, many companies are finding that they can't afford to postpone IT investments that lead to increased security, efficiencies or revenues.”


THE STRATEGIC ROLE OF APPLICATION DELIVERY

The role of application delivery in improving data center efficiency and providing the means by which organizations can better leverage server and OS virtualization to reduce operating expenses is just now becoming well understood by the industry at large. Analyst firms have long held that a unified application delivery strategy can yield extensive benefits in terms of application performance, security, and gains in efficiency inside the data center but have less vocal about the importance of such technologies to the overall health of the data center.

That’s rapidly changing as budgets tighten and organizations are beginning to look toward emerging data center models like cloud computing and virtualization to improve utilization of compute resources and the ratio of investment to return across the data center.

A unified application delivery strategy provides the means by which the myriad functions of application delivery devices can be consolidated while simultaneously providing additional security for the applications that such infrastructure delivers and increasing efficiency of data center hardware by offloading expensive processing. Even the most simple of application delivery optimizations – TCP multiplexing – can afford organizations with substantial increases in the efficiency of servers on which applications are deployed. By making more efficient the basic communication mechanisms over which most corporate applications are delivered, organizations can often realize a 50% or more reduction in hardware requirements.

This simple optimization reduces the number of physical servers needed which translates into cost savings across heating, cooling, power, rack space, licensing, and soft costs like administration and management. And it is only one of many application delivery functions that can improve the efficiency of any data center.

By consolidating security and application acceleration onto a unified application delivery platform organizations can recover the physical space and costs associated with maintaining multiple physical devices required to provide such functionality.


PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE TODAY

Organizations looking to the future of virtualization and cloud computing must also consider what will be necessary to move their infrastructure from traditional static architectures to more dynamic implementations. In order to support the dynamic and volatile nature of virtualized / cloud computing infrastructures, flexibility in the supporting network and application network infrastructure is necessary. That some sort of load balancer or application front end will be necessary to intermediate between a mobile application architecture and users of applications is a makemoneyspendmoney given. That the intermediary deployed to handle that intercession should be itself dynamic, intelligent, and extensible is not always so immediately obvious.

But when considering the future and thinking strategically rather than tactically, it becomes apparent that deploying a platform capable of serving load balancing and application front-end intermediary functions now but is also extensible and able to provide more advanced, dynamic functions as they become necessary makes good investment sense. While a basic load balancing solution will certainly provide the means by which virtualized applications can easily be made highly-available and reliable, such solutions are not necessarily capable of offering gains in efficiency or the integration necessary to support the automation of IT processes required in the future.

Deploying a static load balancing solution now may actually increase costs later when additional application delivery solutions such as WAN application delivery, application security, and acceleration is needed to maintain service level agreements and application performance. Because a static load balancing solution cannot be extended with new functionality, additional point products are often necessary which may require re-architecture of the network and unnecessarily increases costs across all IT functions.

Deploying a unified application delivery platform now, whether advanced functionality is leveraged or not, affords an organization the means by which additional solutions may be deployed, on-demand, as they become necessary without increasing physical data center footprints or incurring additional management and administrative costs.


DON’T JUST ACQUIRE A PRODUCT, INVEST IN A SOLUTION

You will need various application delivery functions within the data center. These delivery functions go beyond basic load balancing and SSL support traditionally associated with the concept of “application delivery.” By acquiring products to address each of these functions there is an unnecessary increase in associated data center costs – physical space, power, cooling – as well as administrative, licensing, and management costs. Each product acquisition potentially increases the complexity of your data center architecture and thus the time required to troubleshoot, monitor, and manage that architecture.

By investing in an extensible solution you may end up paying a bit more now, but you’ll end up saving a lot more both now and in the future as your application delivery needs continue to increase with the additional burdens placed on the infrastructure by virtualization and cloud computing-like architectures.

 

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