Virtualization Headaches For IT Managers

by drjim on July 10, 2014

Virtualization can cause more headaches than it solves…

Virtualization can cause more headaches than it solves…
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When the IT projects that our teams created started to run out of servers and storage, the magic bullet of virtualization suddenly showed up. This wee bit of technology suddenly made just about every IT project virtual in some way: almost every layer of the network and service delivery stack can now be virtualized. However, none of us have the IT manager skills that are needed to deal with this new technology. Only now are IT managers are slowly starting to realize that there are some hidden drawbacks to this miracle cure.

The People Issue

The arrival of virtualization has fundamentally changed how IT teams are created and what they are expected to do. Despite not having any IT manager training in how to do this, you are going to have to adjust to this new world. Staffing your team to handle the new virtualization technologies can be very difficult because you are competing with much larger firms for a limited number of skilled workers who have the virtualization technology knowledge that you need.

As the roles and responsibilities within your IT start to change because of the arrival of virtualization, you are going to discover that this will start to cause conflicts that didn’t exist before. The questions that will be coming up include who controls which resources and ultimately who has what new responsibilities.

Just to make things even more complex, your team is going to be expected to manage the new virtualized environment in which their projects will be deployed into. Unfortunately, the management tools that are needed to pull together all of the various virtualized devices and systems are not yet available. This means that you’ll end up cobbling together multiple systems in order to try to create a single view of what’s going on in your IT environment.

The Automation Issue

The dream behind a virtualized IT environment is that automation can be introduced in order to allow the network to respond to external events. An example of such an event would be when a powerful storm causes one of your main offices to have to shut down because of flooding, could the rest of your network start to provide the services that were no longer available from the shut office?

The answer to this question is yes, if you’ve had the time to implement the automation that is required. Prior to implementing automation solutions, IT managers need to work with their teams to identify the company policies that need to be put into place. How does your company want to respond to the type of events that can strike it?

The challenge that IT managers will have with implementing automation of their virtualization solutions is that it can be challenging to show the return on investment that the company will get from this investment. This type of automation can generally be justified for the company’s mission critical applications, but it will be difficult to get support to automate anything beyond that.

What All Of This Means For You

There is no doubt that virtualization is here to stay. However, IT managers are only slowly starting to discover that this solution comes with its own unique set of challenges.

The first of these is that virtualization of the network, servers, and storage requires a new breed of IT professional in order to implement and maintain them. More and more of an IT manager’s time is being spent trying to obtain the right set of people with the required virtualization skills. Additionally, the creation of corporate network polices and automation projects are a critical part of any virtualization effort. Good luck taking care of all of this on top of that IT team building that you’re supposed to be doing!

The good news is that in the long run, virtualization projects will help your IT team to do more with the limited IT resources that you have available. The problem is that in the short term your team’s lives are going to become much harder. Take the time to properly staff your team with team members who have the right set of skills and perform the automation projects before they are required. Virtualization can be your friend, just make sure that you know how to allow it to enter your team’s lives!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you will be better off hiring new virtualization talent or trying to train the team that you have?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Hey, big tough IT manager. Do you ever show concern about members of your team? Should you? Is this one of those IT manager skills that we’re supposed to have? A lot of us struggle when it comes to showing genuine concern for the people who are on our teams. Deep down inside we’d like to, but we are terribly afraid that if we do so, the rest of the team is going to see us as being weak and an easy mark for manipulation. It turns out that this is not the case…

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