One of the most difficult issues for IT is that everything tends to be additive -- new technologies and new equipment rarely means that we can get rid of stuff. VMware server virtualization is a dual-edged sword on this topic. On the one hand, server virtualization has been a driving force in replacing underutilized older hardware with new hardware. On the other, virtualization allows applications on old OSes to be encapsulated and kept longer than might be possible in a physical environment.
VMware’s Cloud Infrastructure Suite focuses mainly on operational costs and simplifying the management of IT infrastructure. Simplification of the environment must translate into a reduction in labor costs. While IT organizations don’t like to talk about reducing headcount, the fact is that VMware’s goal of making infrastructure “invisible” (automated) should reduce the required headcount to manage and configure equipment. From a CIO’s perspective, this is a way to make internal IT as efficient as external service providers. This headcount reduction can be used to focus more on application value or cut labor cost, and organizations will do both as appropriate.
In the past, infrastructure was designed and tuned for each application. With virtualization as one of the enabling technologies of converged stacks, a growing number of applications can be deployed on common infrastructure. Standardization in infrastructure speeds up deployment time and reduces uncertainty in costs that are common when custom configurations are put together. While even fully-virtualized infrastructure are not yet as easy to deploy as an iPad, the trend is moving in the direction of allowing IT deliver self-serviceable, measurable (especially with chargeback), predictable solutions that can be compared in cost and utility to cloud alternatives.
Action Item: CIOs need to figure out how to allocate the savings from the standardization and automation of infrastructure. For IT practitioners, it means that many must expand skills – by being able to support adjacent technologies such as virtualization or applications – to keep a healthy career track.