Business Production Drill Down – Part 2 – Key Elements


In previous posts, I covered the 3 main stages of virtualization adoption, I drilled down into the IT Production Phase and gave an overview of  the Business Production phase.

The transition from IT production to Business Production is the most critical part of the virtualization journey and many customers are dealing with it right now. Let’s dive deeper into it.

Business Production Key Adoption Elements

First, lt’s take a look at the characteristics of the key journey adoption elements in this phase

Confidence

Confidence refers to the level of competence and experience that the IT team has around virtualization technology. While in the IT Production phase we describe confidence as reactive, in the Business production phase confidence is better described as selective. Wha I mean is that the team is not yet ready to virtualize everything that comes their way but they are getting there. They selectively apply virtualization to increasingly more challenging workloads.

In IT production there is a big inflection point when the team learns how to use vMotion as it unlocks their ability to perform maintenance without downtime and start demonstrating one of the most tangible and visible advantages of virtualization: abstraction and workload mobility.

In Business production there are multiple confidence inflection point as the team learns how to deploy products such as SRM for disaster recovery, HA and FT for business continuity and quality of service, DRS for automatic resource management, and VMWare view for Virtual Desktop deployment. These are the products that build out the platform needed to properly support the virtualization of business applications and databases.

Sponsorship

This is the stage of the journey where the sponsorship level for the virtualization initiative is most critical to adoption and success. As I discussed in this other post, there are different stakeholders at the table during this phase such as Application Owners and Database Administrators. To properly win their concerns and get to the resistance is futile stage, IT teams have to get application owners comfortable with the technology. This is typically achieved in one of 2 ways

  1. Address their Technical Concerns
    Show them their apps/DBs running virtual, set up a demo of vMotion, HA, FT and so on. Show them that apps run better in the virtual environment.
  2. Go over their Head
    Seek a higher level of sponsorship in the organization, ideally the CIO.

Point 1 above is the slower path. You look for a suitable application, you buddy up with the application owner, get him/her comfortable with demo and POCs, you go ahead and virtualize the app, measure the results and evangelize the success. Ideally, turn the app owner into a virtualization evangelist. We have seen this over and over again.

But… if the IT operation team is very comfortable with virtualization technology and with the management products mentioned above (HA, FT, DRS etc), the best and fastest way to achieve both 1 and 2 above it to lead the process from a business perspective, turn it into a business case. Depending on the business application at stake and the requirements and constraints around it, the business case can be made around business continuity, better SLA, faster provisioning (or even self service where applicable), faster time to market for new versions combined with the usual cost saving from hardware consolidation.

This is how you get the attention of the senior management team which in turn will give you air cover to win over the application owners and database administrators.

Value

Business value is always a key to drive any sort of transformation and technology adoption. As mentioned above the key in this phase is to switch the value proposition from consolidation and cost saving to business continuity and better service level for business applications. We have seen this in every customer that is successfully going through the Business Product phase. Cost saving for consolidation is “last decade” value prop to them. It is taken for granted. It becomes all about building a better environment to run Virtual Desktops, Business Applications and Databases.

I always use this example that stuck with me as I was interviewing our customers on their journey last year. After meeting with 4 customers that were squarely in the IT Production phase, I met with this IT professional who told me, and I quote: “I am virtualizing a mission critical application that manages 40 billion dollars in revenue every year and I am doing it because as long as that application runs physical, I don’t sleep tight”.

Back then, I did not realize exactly what I was looking at. Now, after more than 50 in-depth customer interviews I know. I was looking at a customer in the middle of the business production phase with a very high level of confidence and clearly the right level of sponsorhip. He was even willing to go down to a 1 to 1 consolidation ratio (in certain cases) to get the benefits of the virtualization platform. He was clearly past the consolidation stage.

Do you see this?

If you are a customer of ours and you are not yet thinking this way, it means that you are not there yet and you should look at the key elements above (confidence, sponsorship and Value) and see which one you should work on to move forward.

Do you have the right experience but you are getting push back from the app owners? From the Top? Do you have the right mandate but you don’t have the confidence to tackle business applications? Do you have a formal way of tracking the business value you are deriving from your virtualization projects? Is it just around cost savings? Are you reporting it routinely to your management team?

We are rolling out tools to help our field and our customers answering these questions and in the next few posts I will share some of the business production obstacles and best practices that we learned form our own customers

Ciao

Vittorio

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