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Managing IT Related Costs in a Downturn

As we enter 2009 with a slow economy, Service Providers, Enterprises, and Data Centers are all looking for ways to improve efficiency and lower IT-related expenses. Over the next few months we will look at virtualization and cloud computing and the role they can play in reducing expenses. At the same time, we need to understand what’s being done to control virtual machine sprawl and other risks associated with the cloud computing promise.

Medium and large enterprises are burdened with high levels of IT costs that have risen year after year. The application deployment process is slow, the management of deployed systems is complex, and hardware provisioning must be done to support maximum capacity with limited load balancing. Enterprises that use off-the-shelf hardware and software have raced to implement virtual machines into their infrastructure, but struggle with the security and lifecycle management controls. In the fall of 2008, the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) ratified a set of specifications that address the security and management lifecycle of a virtual environment. The OVF (Open Virtualization Format) specification provides a standard format for packaging virtual machines and applications for deployment across virtualized platforms. Open Virtual machine Format will make the VM a more effective platform by providing metadata about the requirements and contents of a VM, thus making it easier to manage thru automated tools. OVF enables flexible and secure distribution of enterprise software, facilitating the portability of virtual machines and giving customers hardware and software independence. Larger enterprises that develop their own set of applications to support unique requirements need tools to help them develop in a virtual environment as well. According to Dave Cotton, VP, North America Sales at rPath, “the momentum associated with ‘agile’ software application development is lost in the deployment chasm given IT operations requirements for control. rPath bridges this chasm, particularly in virtualized environments, via our ‘agile’ build, deployment, and maintenance platform while simultaneously laying a strong foundation for cloud computing.”

Final Score. Server virtualization and cloud computing is coming to the enterprise, but the adoption rate will be defined by the acceptance of open standards like OVF and the use of proven development tools that reduce the security attack risks and lifecycle management complexity. IT

Jeff Hudgins is VP of Product Management at NEI, Inc. (

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