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How to Unlock the Power of Virtualization

Virtualization uses technology to remove the physical barriers associated with computer servers and applications -- enabling the consolidation or replacement of servers, storage, network and other physical devices.

As a result, your business can better use computing capacity and drive more value from IT resources as well as consolidate data centers and significantly lower energy consumption.

For companies who need guidance on a virtualization project, Verizon Business offers these five tips -- culled from the company's years of experience handling complex IT installations and expertise in implementing and managing virtual environments:
  1. Make sure you're looking at the big picture: A business should first complete a thorough assessment of its current IT environment and computing resources, including a full review of all servers. Once the enterprise has a better understanding of its infrastructure, it is easier to determine which computing resources, such as servers and devices, are candidates for consolidation.
  2. Enlist vendor support: After compiling a list of applications that can be virtualized, it is important to confirm there will be very few, if any, issues with vendor support. Some vendors, especially smaller ones, do not support their software on virtualized platforms.
  3. Evaluate licensing costs: When assessing applications for migration, evaluate the licensing costs associated with them. While consolidating multiple servers and devices into a single virtual machine will lower hardware and facility costs, this does not necessarily apply to software licensing costs. Many vendors still charge based on total available power and the number of physical applications. If that's the case, consider working with vendors that embrace more flexible licensing models.
  4. Avoid common bottlenecks: Carefully assess the memory and storage requirements for applications moving to the virtual environment. Memory and storage can severely limit how many virtual machines a host can support. A common scenario is an environment with consolidated storage and a high number of mobile BlackBerry users, requiring large memory and storage needs. Therefore, assessment, management and proper allocation of applications per virtual machine are key.
  5. Security, security, security: Security should be a top priority; it should be built in from the ground up to ensure the new environment comes with the right safeguards. Enterprises also should pay close attention to relevant industry regulations. For instance, businesses that store, handle or process customer payment information must maintain compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a comprehensive set of requirements for enhancing payment account data security. In that case, PCI DSS compliance would be a key requirement for the new virtual environment.
"Virtualization holds huge promise for the enterprise," said Michael Marcellin, vice president of Verizon global managed solutions. "Its ability to increase efficiency and agility while managing costs is unparalleled. With that potential, however, comes complexity concerning deployment and implementation. Our hope is that enterprises will take this promising technology to heart and embrace our suggestions -- based on our more than 10 years experience managing complex IT infrastructures -- on how best to utilize it."

Verizon Business offers a wealth of IT and hosting solutions to help customers meet their most-pressing IT needs in today's dynamic business environment. As we've previously reported on the Business Technology Roundtable, enterprise and small-business executives are actively adopting the selective out-tasking of applications to these managed cloud services.