Enterprise virtualization guide for CIOs

Enterprise virtualization guide for CIOs

Enterprise virtualization provides many benefits, from costs savings to disaster recovery.

Virtualization isn't a technology you can exactly wrap your hands around. Nevertheless, enterprises are turning to virtualization as a way to wring the most from their software dollars and to secure and expand the reach of their systems.

This enterprise virtualization guide for CIOs covers the management and monitoring of virtualized systems, the virtual desktop and the vital role of virtualization in disaster recovery and business continuity.

This guide is part of SearchCIO.com's CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics.

Table of contents:

Managing an enterprise virtualization strategy

If it's human nature to want to keep up with the Joneses, no one can blame an IT manager for rushing to a virtualization strategy that touches just about everything: applications, desktops and servers. "Everyone is so concerned about saying, 'I'm 50% virtualized' or 70% virtualized, or 'I'm in the cloud,'" said Robert Thomas, senior IT architect at Christus Health, a 42-hospital organization headquartered in Irving, Texas, that operates in a 90% virtualized environment.

What he has learned since the start of Christus Health's virtualization journey in 2006 is that "it's important to take a step back and make sure the planning phase is really detailed,” Thomas explained. In other words: Don't rush and take the time to develop a virtualization strategy.

Thomas was part of a panel of three IT executives who spoke at a VMworld conference in San Francisco about their virtualization strategies. The panelists spoke about policy and personnel issues that are essential to successful deployments, such as putting appropriate new applications and projects into a virtual environment first, rather than a traditional physical environment.

Learn more in "Policies and people are keys to managing a virtualization strategy."

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Monitoring an enterprise virtualization environment

It's hardly news to anyone that enterprise infrastructure is becoming increasingly virtual. But according to David Williams, a research vice president at Gartner Inc., what appears to come as a surprise to many is that monitoring has to change in the virtual enterprise.

Traditional monitoring tools use preset policies to measure use and performance. The newer performance monitoring tools establish normal patterns of behavior among applications at various times of the day.

Sounds complex? That's because it is, although a lineup of new performance monitoring tools specifically for virtual environments aims to make life easier for IT staffs. No matter what software you choose, keep some tips in mind to ensure the safe and successful monitoring of your virtualized environment.

See what Williams suggests in "Tips for using performance monitoring tools in a virtual environment."

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The role of desktop virtualization in the enterprise

The desktop virtualization tables have turned. Where once IT shops argued and pushed for the technology to solve their desktop administrative and security headaches, now the business is pushing IT to use desktop virtualization to resolve a potpourri of business problems.

At Honeywell International Inc., end users want access to an Adobe Flash-based SAP application on their iPads and other iOS devices, but such devices don't support Flash. End users also are pushing the company to a bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, support model; and technicians need to provide remote support for the conglomerate's consumer, aerospace, automobile and other products at customer sites.

Baiju Shait, lead security architect at Honeywell, is investigating ways to resolve these scenarios while still protecting the company's vast data assets. The solution he keeps coming up with is desktop virtualization.

Learn more in “Desktop virtualization now being pushed by the business, not by IT.”

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How enterprise virtualization supports business continuity and disaster recovery

Rarely does a disaster recovery plan appear high on the list of priority IT budget items -- sometimes it doesn't make it onto the list at all. More often, IT executives piggyback disaster recovery planning onto a data center consolidation project or, as Irving, Texas-based Christus Health did, a desktop virtualization project.

Server and desktop virtualization projects are under way at Christus Health to meet business goals that range from offering more flexible access to data and consuming less power, to following electronic health care regulations and planning for disaster recovery.

"We were hit by hurricanes that caused major outages in our organization. Now we're building a client computing model that allows a physician at a hospital that went down to pick up a satellite phone or whatever is at hand, and get immediate access back to our infrastructure," said Todd Bruni, director of client computing services and configuration management at Christus Health, a health care company with 30,000 employees and 40 hospitals and affiliated facilities.

Learn more in “IT execs piggyback disaster recovery onto virtualization.”

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Virtualization trends and management: A quiz for CIOs

CIOs in both enterprise and midmarket firms would be hard-pressed to ignore the impact of recent virtualization trends on their IT operations. Virtualization is happening at the operating system, server, storage, desktop and networking resource levels, and offers many benefits to organizations tackling mobile device management issues.

Have you kept up to date on the latest virtualization trends and their many attributes, benefits and challenges? Take our quiz and find out.

Test your virtualization IQ