Thinking Thru Building a Virtualized Datacenter

In most if not all enterprise customers most technology areas are driven by various teams responsible for a technology area. Some enterprise customers have more integrated technology teams then others. So how does this affect the common approach today of infusing virtualization into datacenters and building out a virtualization utility/service? To date this task has been assigned to a virtualization team or a virtualization expert in most companies folks that understand the virtualization technology well. This is reflective of the disruptive nature of the virtualization technology initially and companies reacted by creating teams to work on Virtualization. The virtualization projects started out small with Test/Development environments and expanded into production then into full blown virtualized datacenter projects.

So of course the datacenter existed long before the project to create a virtualization utility/service with various technology and process areas. Some will say the datacenter was lumbering along (no offense to present datacenter operations managers) with various issues and challenges and that virtualization is going to cure all the ills of the datacenters. I am a virtualization person and I love the virtualization technology and I happen to believe that virtualization capabilities have the potential to change how we build and use capabilities in the datacenter and beyond. Ok with that said without reference architecture of these new datacenters where virtualization is a key pillar we may miss some opportunities to completely realize all of the potential across datacenter service areas.

A Virtualization datacenter project should seek to review present datacenter capabilities determine gaps, leverage existing capabilities and redesign others that do not fully leverage or hinder the virtualization effort. What are some of the areas that have to be taken into account when embarking on this journey to build a virtualized datacenter? Well let's look at some of the services that a present day datacenter offers:

  • Power and Cooling
  • Systems/Service Management
  • Backup services
  • Disaster Recovery services
  • Security Services
  • Capacity services
  • Storage services
  • Equipment Provisioning
    • Servers
    • Network devices
    • Storage
    • Backup devices
  • Compliance services

So it is pretty clear that today's datacenters offer a range of complex services and you thought all it did was keep servers from being homeless. So a project to infuse virtualization as a core pillar has to seek to understand how virtualization impacts the various datacenters areas. I know what people are thinking, I already have virtual machines in production so this is a mute point. There is some production virtualization but very few projects that have truly looked at all of the datacenter areas and designed the area to fully leverage virtualization. This is an opportunity for datacenter architects and datacenter service owners to think and rethink how virtualization can affect some of the service areas in the datacenter. This exercise will help unlock potential that relooking at some of the services with virtualization capability in mind will provide. Some core areas to start are Storage and Business continuity areas that receive a lot of interest especially from the Virtualization community but have very little architecture patterns and practices. I look forward to your comments on this and experiences' looking deeper at datacenter services that Virtualization affects.


Allen Stewart

Principal Program Manager

Windows Server Group