In today’s dynamic business world, organisations are confronted by a series of IT challenges. The smart devices revolution has contributed to the vast growth of data, creating dynamic data that is difficult to manage. IT managers are struggling to find a simple solution to providing an IT infrastructure that is satisfying to corporate users whilst aligning with business goals and objectives, including cost savings, productivity and efficiency improvements.

Virtualisation is not just a cost saver; it can be a lifesaver too

Many businesses today have chosen to virtualise their infrastructure to save hardware costs and reduce operational expenses on energy and cooling. Virtualisation also allows IT managers to isolate system failures and efficiently dedicate resources to users and devices. With the influx of personal and/or corporate mobile devices into the enterprise implying an increased risk of something going wrong, virtualisation can be a lifesaver for many IT managers.

Virtualised environments can cause IT headaches

But virtualisation also brings its own challenges. Very few businesses have completely transformed their IT infrastructure into a virtualised environment, so hybrid platforms are the reality today. Hybrid environments create management challenges when data is being moved between them.

According to a Ponemon survey, the biggest challenge for most IT managers in 2012 (79%) was managing different environments and migrating data across them. Adding another level of complexity to the mix, 86% of businesses reported they were moving data (physical to virtual) using different tools.

Heterogeneous virtualised environments are also becoming inefficient and hard to manage. Most companies have taken a ‘step-by-step’ approach to virtualisation with IT departments investing in multiple virtualisation point solutions to solve a specific challenge and avoid vendor lock-in. But this has created a patchwork of technologies that require a diverse range of expertise to maintain and run, making them costly and inflexible in the long run as manageability, interoperability and scalability become more important.

The diversity of locations where data and virtual machines may reside can also make it harder for IT departments to manage the constant flow of dynamic data. This is especially true when they need to move and migrate data and VMs (virtual machines) dynamically between virtual and physical services, on premise, across data centres or to the cloud.

How to get the full benefits of virtualisation?

To take the full advantage of virtualisation, gradually virtualising servers and applications is not enough. To prevent IT complexity and incompatible technology creating additional challenges and inefficiencies, IT managers need to rethink their virtualisation approach. Here are seven top tips that can help drive the full benefits of virtualisation:

  • Hybrid environments require hybrid solutions – look for integrated solutions that can handle systems running in an environment with physical servers and virtual machines.
  • Less is more – reduce the patchwork of virtualisation technologies as much as possible to simplify management, improve interoperability and enable scalability of the whole virtualised environment.
  • A unified platform for effortless data migration and protection – a unified platform can simplify the migration of data between hypervisors, automatically create virtual machines from physical servers as a backup and remove the need to migrate complete virtual machines to make data protection quick and effortless.
  • Avoid vendor lock-in and opt for flexible solutions – when choosing a backup and recovery solution, IT managers may not want to be locked into a single vendor. They might prefer affordable cross-hypervisor data migration, backup and disaster recovery executed across disparate systems, different sites and multiple vendors. Single and multiple vendor solutions can both work, the key is picking a solution that gives you a choice.
  • Minimise disaster recovery time – today, IT managers need to be able to recover data with greater speed and frequency, to and from, any platform and ensure data is always available to any system at any time.When a system goes down, they should be able to run its workloads and restore its data on any combination of available platforms, whether it’s from a failover to a replica virtual machine or to a running virtual machine directly from a backup. This applies to physical servers, VMware, Hyper-V, Xen server, Rhev, KVM, you name it.
  • Keep updated on speedy new technology – new technology innovations allow IT managers to recover data with much more speed and frequency than traditional methods, in fact up to 100 times faster than what was previously possible. As a result, they can ensure multiple virtual machines on a single server have a current and reliable backup available at all times.
  • Future-proof solutions – with constant change and developments in technology IT managers need to invest in solutions that allow them to take advantage of the next wave of virtualisation.