6 Lessons from Virtualisation and Cloud

Over the last few years I have seen many of my customers transform their IT and businesses, as they grappled with emerging technologies, namely virtualisation and cloud. These concepts quickly moved from ideas to reality and I made some notes along the way. The lessons learnt from cloud and virtualisation can be applied to the latest technology trends in our industry and Part 2 of my blog will specifically apply these learnings to Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV). But first:

Lessons from Virtualisation and Cloud

1) Not everything is worth virtualising

Anywhere between 50% and 70% of all workloads today are virtualised, but that still leaves a large amount that are not. Often these are legacy applications that are not worth the hassle of virtualising, but many applications with high throughput or processing demands run better or need to be run on bare metal servers.

2) End users lead the way and create the demand

End users are often the first to adopt new technologies if pricing or convenience appeals. For enterprise end users this meant the rise of cloud storage platforms such as Dropbox, which were significantly easier to setup and maintain than enterprise systems. For service providers they see their enterprise customers consuming cloud based network services whilst they continue to ship hardware appliance to site. Whoever your end users are the way they consume resources has changed and so have the economics – when they receive utility or usage based pricing from a cloud provider they will expect the same from their Service Provider.

3) Pricing models to change

As end users demand new utility based pricing so enterprises, rightly, demand it of their vendors. Pay as you grow models have become commonplace for storage and compute, and will now become so for network services. Think of Network as a Service (NaaS).

4) No one vendor has the complete answer

Almost every vendor pitch I saw about cloud implied, if not directly stated, that a vendor had the complete cloud story. “Cloud in a box”, but the truth was that most vendors have their installed base to protect and some IP they have developed. End users needed to decipher the hype from the reality, but getting away from presentations and into proof of concepts (PoC) soon helped to achieve this.

5) Skills change

Previously both end users and suppliers could and did, and have IT resources that were solely focussed on one hardware appliance or technology, in some cases this remains, but increasingly I find multi skilled employees that are able to install and configure compute, storage and virtualisation. Just as technology has enabled resources to be better utilised it has enabled staff to be better skilled and more valuable to the organisation. The fear of mass redundancies due to automation and cloud has largely disappeared as IT employees have actually become more valuable to an organisation, not less.

6) Don’t jump out of the frying pan into the fire

I saw several organisations move from a physical machine sprawl to a virtual machine sprawl. If you don’t change your processes and workflows to better suit the new models you will end up back in the same mess. Take the opportunity that new technology brings to revaluate how you do things. Find out how we can apply these lessons to the latest technologies that are gripping our industry – those being SDN and NFV in my next instalment.

What do you think? Is there anything you would add to this list? Please add your comments below, thanks.

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