Optimising the core

At the highest level, virtualisation appears to be one way to bring greater efficiency and flexibility to the underlying IT infrastructure, says Owen McKee, UK and Ireland country manager for infrastructure management firm Avocent.

But those goals are only achievable if that mix of physical and virtual resources is carefully and actively managed.

“The idea that servers are under-utilised has been around for a long time,” he says. “But now people are asking: ‘Are we getting enough out of our infrastructure?’ What other industry operates at 15% capacity?

The obvious answer is – get more out of what you have.”

McKee says virtualisation is “part and parcel” of the consolidation challenges faced by global organisations, particularly as demand for data centres grows.

But businesses that want to realise the cost savings offered by virtualisation need to match that with a management structure that enables them to control those sprawling environments through a “single pane of glass”.

“IT is looking constantly at the dilemma of whether to outsource or manage the technology itself – which is more cost-effective? But if you deal with the complexity, you can realise more benefits and see significant improvements within the business,” he says.

Avocent partners with VMware, integrating its data centre management software into the company’s core offerings. “Customers say: ‘Please don’t just give us another point solution. Whenever you introduce a new tool, I have to train people up.’ The reality is a lot of applications are point solutions. Avocent’s approach is to integrate virtualisation into our core software, and use the strength of VMware as a brand.”

Avocent’s integration approach “provides a unique opportunity to add process into the management structure”, McKee says. “As an element, security is the greatest single challenge [to virtualisation]. How do you manage who has access?”

Virtualisation may not be new, McKee says, “but now we are addressing the scope of the management challenge that surrounds it.”

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