Readying Your Business for Virtualized Critical Applications

Increase efficiency and provide greater agility: these are two of the major challenges enterprises face today.  The virtualization of critical applications is one way to help achieve this goal.

Companies are increasingly virtualizing their workloads. The benefits are well known: efficiency and infrastructure consolidation, faster provisioning of applications and improved configuration management, high availability of universal services, automated optimization of resources and dynamics expansion of applications.

However, even when companies realize these benefits, many are lagging in the transition from level mission-critical applications that could offer the most benefits from virtualization.

What’s keeping us from adopting virtualization?

A recent survey from Nimble Storage, a leading provider of flash-optimized hybrid storage solutions, found that two-thirds of business-critical applications are expected to be virtualized in the next 12 months.

The survey reported that more than 55 percent of respondents already have virtualized half or more of their business-critical applications, and the number is likely to increase to 66 percent in the next one year.

Cost savings (61 percent), greater flexibility (60 percent), agility or time to deploy (45 percent) and higher availability (48 percent) are the top benefits respondents indicated towards the adoption and deployment of virtualization.

While these results are validating, the budget (54 percent) remains the largest challenge in adopting virtualization, followed by inadequate IT infrastructure (49 percent), and insufficient virtualization skill sets and application knowledge (46 percent), followed by storage performance and scalability or network infrastructure issues (54 percent).

What to consider for Application Virtualization

The future of enterprise cloud is a fully virtualized data center. It is driven by server virtualization, but in close agreement with storage virtualization, network and I/O virtualization infrastructure and application virtualization.

The database is the top virtualized workload today, with 72 percent of respondents in Nimble’s survey reporting that they are virtualizing some or all of their databases. This was followed by messaging applications such as Microsoft Exchange (51 percent) and collaboration and application server applications.

Still, it is not particularly surprising that companies are cautious when it comes to their Tier 1 applications. The applications themselves are often the most complex and most critical to a business, and issues surrounding the purchases of stakeholders, architecture and ISV support, and licensing must be addressed before taking the plunge.

A recent study found that, with organizations in the Unites States alone there is more than $12.3 billion in ongoing costs associated with unused software and shelfware.

In many ways, the virtualization of business is a three-step process. In general, companies begin their journey with the virtualization of IT assets and departmental servers. These companies are looking to consolidate infrastructure and reduce capital expenditures for operating expenses. The second step is to focus on the production of business, as the company virtualizes their critical business assets. The final step is automation, which is leveraging virtualization for managed and scalable and autonomous infrastructure.

Another recent study from FOCUS/Interop found that desktop virtualization reached a noteworthy 42% adoption rate, but application virtualization reached a higher level than desktop virtualization, with 50% in production, and 20% in the planning stages.  As a result, application virtualization adoption has grown more quickly for the past few years, both in conjunction with desktop virtualization and as a standalone technology.

Industry virtualization leaders are introducing new releases of virtualization tools to leverage all the benefits of virtualization, achieve higher ROI and create fault tolerance across the network. VMware has one offering on application virtualization solution, ThinApp. The company recently released a new version 4.7.3 for Build 891762 that supports the packaging and execution of virtualized applications on Windows 8 operating systems, in addition to all the application virtualization features.

Microsoft has their own offering in the form of the latest App-V 5.0, which brings a number of changes including Virtual Application Connection Group that makes it easier for organizations to rely on App-V to deploy software, Windows 8 support, and Windows desktop applications to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments support.