Don’t Skip IT Production
The first best practice is not to skip this stage as it helps the team build up the expertise and experience necessary for future success. We found few customers who skipped this stage and went directly to Business Production and virtualized databases or business applications from the beginning. These are exceptions.
Get Storage Right
Storage is both one of the biggest obstacle and enabler of virtualization. Without a sound storage architecture that supports the more advanced feature of VMware platform such as vMotion, Storage vMotion, DRS and FT, the journey hits bumps and slows down. Once you get storage right, the journey moves more swiftly, at least through IT production.
Many customers told us “If i could do it all over again, I would spend time getting the storage architecture right form the beginning”.
We found customers who ran into different bottlenecks overtime, such as RAM, or CPU, but these days it seems like storage architecture and storage availability is one of the main chokepoint in the overall architecture. I heard this a recent as two days ago from the IT architect of a major worldwide manufacturer of servers (and storage vendor themselves).
Train the Team
This is another biggie. Many of our customers get trained on the job. I should probably say our technical champions and virtualization enthusiasts do. They are smart and they get it done but this is a model that it is hard to scale. As one reaches higher level of virtualization and use more sophisticated features, training becomes a critical ingredient for future success. VMworld is a great source of knowledge and training but certainly not the only one. Many of our customers told us that training a larger IT team was one of the key step in their virtualization journey.
Train Across Teams
While most customers start training their virtualization team first (often a very small team), most will tell you that if they had a second chance they would train more people across organizations and disciplines. In fact one of the main obstacles to the adoption of virtualization technology is the lack of communication between teams (Server, storage, network and security) and the lack of knowledge around the impact that virtualization has on their respective disciplines. As I mentioned in previous posts, some of our more advanced customers even reorganize their IT team as a result of adopting virtualization technology to remove these inter-team organizational and knowledge barriers.
Shoot for High Consolidation Ratios
In the beginning of their experience with virtualization, some customers tend to be conservative with their consolidation ratios partially because they don’t have much experience yet and partially because they believe they can minimize risk this way. Given the type of applications that are typically virtualized in this stage which utilize very little server resources, many of the customers we talked to told us that they should have shot for higher consolidation ratios to achieve an even more dramatic ROI and therefore accelerate their adoption.
Consolidation ratios tend to be less dramatic in further stages of the journey while other business value area become more relevant and important, namely business continuity, better service level agreement for business applications and ultimately better business agility.
Track and Report Business Value
Most customers perform an ROI analysis before making an investment in virtualization but not all customers track the value delivered over time. We found a strong correlation between customers adoption and whether or not they tracked the business value realized. You know the old saying “If you don’t measure, you can’t manage it”… with virtualization is more like “if you don’t measure it (the value realized that is), you don’t know how much more you can achieve”. The best practice is to create a framework to measure the business value delivered by virtualization technology and report it up the management chain on a regular basis. Mind you, the type of value changes over time as mentioned above and in this post. We are rolling out tools to help our customers measure value all along their journey. Stay tuned.
A great way to start the process if to engage with your VMware System Engineer and perform what we call a rear-view mirror value assessment. See what you have achieved so far and then do the math to see what you can achieve if you increase your adoption.