Virtualization Technologies Lure Governments

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jul 28, 2010

More on virtualization technologies

The lure of saving money is often a key selling point in virtualization gaining a foothold in the enterprise. It should be no surprise that this is also appealing to government entities of all stripes.

The cost savings and ease of management that draws enterprises to virtualization technologies is also proving attractive to government entities of all stripes.

Earlier this month, CDW Government LLC (CDW-G) released the "2010 Government Virtualization Report," an annual report culled from a survey of 600 federal, state and local IT managers. The results echo those of the private sector.

For example, CDW found that 77 percent of agencies are implementing at least one form of virtualization, and of those, 89 percent are benefiting from the technology. Most respondents also said they plan to fully implement client, server and storage virtualization by 2015.

Server virtualization is by and large the most popular: 91 percent of agencies have or plan to implement. Desktop and storage virtualization are almost as popular, with 84 percent considering or implementing desktop virtualization and, again, 84 percent storage virtualization.

Penetration continues to be wide but not deep, however; 81 percent of agencies said they are not using virtualization to its fullest extent, while 33 percent employ a "virtualization first" strategy, whereby new apps get a virtual server, not a dedicated physical server, by default.

The benefits cited are also similar for private enterprise and government: reduced operating and capital costs, improved utilization of computing resources and greater IT staff productivity, according to CDW.

Virtualization was a key component of the IT department's contributions to the House of Representatives' Green the Capitol Initiative, which aims to reduce power consumption in the Capitol facility by 50 percent in the next 10 years. Using virtualization, IT was able to reduce its consumption in one year (with no additional capital expenditures) while also saving of $2,000 per day in power and cooling.

Just as the benefits of virtualization are not mutually exclusive, so too are the deterrents, with staffing and budgets chief among them. Nearly half of those surveyed said their IT department is not appropriately staffed and trained to manage a virtual environment.

Security, a big concern for enterprises of all sizes, has somewhat ironically become less of a concern for government entities virtualizing. It ranked No. 7 and 8 with federal and state and local officials, respectively. It is fast becoming universally understood that "virtualization is no more or less secure than other server-based technologies. It's certainly no less secure than physical server systems," as Kenneth Hess noted last week. Moreover, the survey found that nearly half of all IT managers found improved security to be a benefit of virtualization.

There's no denying that virtualization's adoption rates have been fast and furious, and its reputation is now near-bulletproof. The need for organizations to do more with less is facilitating the speed at which virtualization technologies are being accepted. With government now board, the stakes have gone even higher. It is often overlooked, however, that in many respects, virtualization does not run deep in many enterprises, making putting it just outside of a real world data test. Caution, as opposed to irrational exuberance, is still called for.

Amy Newman is the senior managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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