Ask any company that has been dabbling in the virtualisation space about the benefits and you are likely to hear terms like hardware consolidation, more efficient resource utilisation and reduced complexity come up a lot.
And while it is true that virtualisation does all of these things, few organisations have been brave enough to ‘virtualise’ their most critical line of business systems.
“That is because up until a couple of months ago those companies would have had to be comfortable with housing their most mission-critical applications on off-the-shelf commodity hardware, not the kind that is designed to stay operational no matter what,” says Dick Sharod, country manager for Stratus Technologies in South Africa.
With his company’s recent announcement of its full support of VMWare – a firm favourite with most CIOs looking to consolidate their server investments today – all of that has changed.
“Stratus has immediately made virtualisation a viable option for customers’ most mission-critical applications,” Sharod opines.
Virtually continuously available
“Today companies, regardless of vertical can put our continuous availability infrastructure into a datacentre environment and through VMWare, run more than one application and its operating system securely and fault tolerantly next to another.
“It is a big step for us and a massive leap forwards in terms of what customers can do with our technology,” he says.
Immediately, Sharod says that his company’s value proposition to its traditional customer base, namely large telcos, financial institutions and other large enterprises, has been bolstered.
“Generally our customers buy Stratus because they have applications that quite simply cannot experience downtime,” he explains, “and because our servers are configured to cope with the maximum load that application is likely to place on the hardware and still not go down, there are times when their resources might be underutilised.
“With virtualisation in the picture, that need not be the case,” he says. “At those quiet times, customers can transition workloads they would normally have run on commodity hardware to the Stratus servers, thus guaranteeing those applications are safe from downtime while running on the Stratus infrastructure.
“And the really smart customers will use this functionality to unlock even more competitive advantage,” he says. “By simply reorganising their business models slightly, organisations can ensure that they have continuous availability for their most mission-critical applications, at the most mission- critical times of the month.
“It extends the ‘making better use of your existing hardware’ concept brought to the table by virtualisation in a completely different realm,” he says.
Sharod says that organisations with medium-sized server fleets can now also begin considering the benefits offered by its continuous availability infrastructure.
“Virtualisation allows companies to move from a multiple server environment to a single server environment,” he says, “and by using our technology in combination with VMWare’s suite of solutions, these companies can build less complex environments with less servers in them while at the same time taking advantage of continuous uptime.
“Where they before would maybe not have been capable of justifying the spend on a Stratus box, with virtualisation in the picture it is a far more viable avenue.
“We believe our new value proposition holds excellent value in anyone’s books,” he concludes.
Virtualising all of your business critical applications on a single platform is very much like placing all of your eggs in one basket. We are not saying you should not do it though – you should just make sure that your basket comes with a safety-net.