Federal IT managers lukewarm about virtualization

Only 20 percent of respondents say their agencies are harnessing the technology to its fullest.

Although nearly three-quarters of federal information technology managers recognize the benefits of virtualization, just 20 percent say their agencies are harnessing the technology to its fullest, according to a new report.

Seventy-nine percent of the respondents said their agencies have begun implementing some form of virtualization, but only 50 percent said the implementation has been successful.

The report, released today by CDW Government Inc., surveyed 377 federal IT managers in April.

The IT managers cited the many benefits of virtualization, including reduced capital and operating costs, improved continuity of operations and network security, and better utilization of computing resources.

However, they also cited the lack of up-front funding to capture the larger but later benefits as the single biggest obstacle to greater success in establishing virtualization within the federal government.

The IT managers agreed that education and training would improve virtualization success.

The survey found that 51 percent of federal agencies are utilizing storage virtualization, a method of making many different physical storage networks and devices appear as one entity for purposes of management and administration.

Forty-nine percent of federal agencies have implemented client virtualization, a method of running multiple desktops and/or applications centrally in the data center.

In addition, the CDW-G survey reported that 59 percent of federal agencies have implemented server virtualization, a method of running multiple independent server operating systems on a single physical server.

Based upon the findings, the survey recommends that federal agencies:

  • Share best practices with other agencies and private-sector peers.
  • Become intimately familiar with the agency IT budget to accurately project virtualization return on investment.
  • Secure CIO and other senior executive buy-in; encourage CIO virtualization proficiency.
  • Audit training needs and implement programs for rank-and-file and executive. staff. Task subject matter experts with staying abreast of virtualization advances.
  • Select and track metrics to ensure virtualization delivers against goals.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

Reader Comments

Wed, Jul 15, 2009

VMware's thin hypervisor, ESXi has an extremely tiny footprint and burns very few cycles executing the virtual layer. Those agencies who have embraced this technology are saving millions in power/cooling and management right now. They are fully aware that not every application can be virtualized but those are the exception and not the rule. I recommend folks educate themselves before declaring themselves lukewarm without having all the facts. [I do not work for VMware.]

Tue, Jun 16, 2009 arty

"Virtualization" is a buzz word. When a sales person says it, she means (a) consolidation, or getting each machine to use its full performance running tasks or jobs, and (b) running an OS and/or middleware that will support the application without any changes. In some cases, an application can simply be re-installed in the new machine. In others, it may be necessary to provide the specific routines the application calls. In the most extreme case, the server must emulate the machine the application was originally built for. If this approach is engaged without planning, one could end up emulating many legacy systems for many legacy applications -- an exercise for the Smithsonian, not the Data Center. In general, the applications suite should be running native on the server/OS. The "virtual" part should be an intermediate step to get things on the new machine quickly, with a plan to upgrade the applications for the new hardware as soon as possible. Otherwise, your new server is going to end up using the lion's share of its cycles executing the virtual layer and not the applications. You buy a machine that's ten times more powerful, spend half that on virtual layers, and end up with a machine that's only five times more powerful. That's why I'm lukewarm about virtualization.

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