By: Alexey Strygin, Presales Director, Emerging Markets and LATAM at Veeam Software
In many aspects of life, false perceptions and myths prevent a particular course of action being taken, often to the detriment of the person or organisation involved. The problem with a false perception is with how that course of action ends – particularly if it ends badly – when all the information was unclear or incorrect at the start.
Virtualisation is one such area that requires its many myths to be debunked, particularly when it comes to virtualising business-critical applications – there is an assumed layer of complexity that some enterprises must overcome to reap the rewards to ensure constant access to essential services. In itself, virtualisation is on an upward trend, and is the driving force behind ensuring constant availability to data and applications. Yet, when business-critical applications are not virtualised, organisations cannot be always-on – they miss out on lower costs, improved reliability and availability, as well as increased business agility.
What are the supposed complexities involved, and are they true?
I’ve outlined the areas that the IT department does, and doesn’t, need to be concerned about when it comes to business-critical application virtualisation.
Myth 1 – Applications perform better on physical systems
A lot of your application owners will think virtualised systems cannot deliver the level of performance they get from physical servers. Once upon a time, the rationale underpinning this myth was undoubtedly true. That is no longer the case. It is now possible to achieve the same levels at least – and with the right tools and configuration – much better performance on Virtual Machines (VMs) than you see in physical systems. These VMs also enable businesses to ensure their data is always available. There is also the added advantage that a VM gives you instant scalability to meet peaks in demand and changing business needs. If you can get better performance from a VM and instant scalability to meet peaks in demand and ensure you are always-on, it makes sense to virtualise as many applications as possible.
Myth 2 – Virtualisation (or being always-on) will cost too much
Fundamentally this is false both from the point of view of licensing costs and the cost of running servers. These two main cost considerations can both be reduced by having a fully-virtualised system. The initial investment required for operating new servers will be offset by the lower costs associated with lower power and cooling costs. Whilst simultaneously, licence costs are reduced because some vendors will offer licencing breaks for virtualised environments.
Myth 3 – VMs can’t be backed up properly
Application owners, particularly those responsible for business-critical applications, have to meet tough SLAs, and they need to know they can rely on backup and recovery systems to keep their businesses always-on and their data available at all times. It is a myth that VMs can’t be backed up properly. In fact, modern backup and recovery solutions can achieve RPOs and RTOs of fewer than 15 minutes for any application, whether it’s virtualised or not. Virtualised systems actually offer much faster recovery for business-critical applications than physical systems.
Myth 4 – Virtualisation isn’t safe for business critical applications
The fact is that business critical applications will benefit most from virtualisation. The modern data centre is anchored on key characteristics of the modern data centre: today they are highly virtualised, companies are investing in modern storage systems and there is a definite cloud strategy. This modern data centre becomes the platform to run critical applications to the highest pedigree. The reality is that if organisations want it all, they need a data centre that can meet the needs of critical applications and the expectations of company today. This can only be done when additional capabilities that come from virtualisation are in place.
Whether immediate scalability is needed, availability off-site or being able to verify that critical applications are recoverable and ready to go for the next critical change; virtualisation is the common thread to meet those needs. So much so, that virtualisation can open up opportunities that weren’t even possible just a few years ago.
Myth 5 – If one application is compromised it puts every application at risk
It is a myth that if one application is compromised it puts every application at risk. Such fears are unfounded because isolation and segregation are fundamental principles of virtualisation, so these types of environments have had protection from cross-infection built into them since their inception. Modern hypervisors also have a very small – and very hard – attack surface, which makes it extremely difficult to compromise multiple VMs.
Advances in network virtualisation have also made it possible to deploy an entire virtual network, with firewalls, routers and switches, which you can control and secure just as you would a physical network.
It’s now possible to achieve always-on status without adding cost and complexity to IT infrastructures or putting business-critical applications at risk. Today enterprises can reduce data centre expenses and improve the performance and availability of the applications that really make a difference to business; helping increase business agility and productivity while also lowering costs.
These issues lie at the heart of the always-on business, and with the right tools in place, enterprises no longer need to ask if they can afford to virtualise business-critical applications, but rather, if they can afford not to.