Midsize Enterprise Summit: Virtualization Top Of Mind For CIOs

server virtualization infrastructure

In a Monday morning keynote address to MES attendees, Dave Cearly, vice president and Fellow at Gartner, said that virtualization is one of the top strategic technologies for 2010.

"Virtualization is more than just consolidation," Cearly said. "Companies will begin the process with cost as the driving force, but within a short period of time -- often as little as a year -- they will move to seeing business flexibility as the most important consideration in the process."

Both cost and flexibility have played roles in the virtualization effort overseen by Michael Mills, director of operations and global HR systems at Remy International, a manufacturer of starters, alternators and other electrical components for the automotive industry. Mills says that virtualization began as a server consolidation effort in the central data center that serves IT functions across Remy locations in 39 separate countries. In the process of dramatically reducing the number of servers, Mills found that the company was able to meet needs in two additional areas: regulatory compliance and business continuity.

"We've made the decision to become SOX compliant, even though we're not currently required to abide by those regulations," Mills said. He points out that the management and administration functions eased by reducing the number of physical servers has made it less cumbersome and expensive to provide the sort of access control required by the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. Of even more importance to Mills is the contribution virtualization has made to Remy's business continuity plans.

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"We were able to take servers made redundant by our virtualization effort, move them [from headquarters in Indiana] to our Oklahoma facility, and mirror all environments and transactions there. This gives us redundancy with very little additional capital costs," Mills said. The combination of factors that have been delivered through the virtualization effort leads Mills to say that it has been well worth the effort and investment made thus far.

The results seen by Remy echo the best situation depicted by Cearly in his presentation. Full change virtualization allows, Cearly said, a wide variety of benefits to be realized through a comprehensive virtualization effort rather than simply looking at spot benefits that come through limited change. Mills, it seems, would agree.

Curtis Franklin is a freelance journalist based in Gainesville, Fla.