March 22, 2010 – Forrester Consulting, a services arm of Forrester Research, released a study today that finds virtualized IT environments continuing to expand. Despite an explosion in complexity, the study also finds that virtualization has improved service quality, operational staff productivity and morale. The study was commissioned by IT management software provider CA.

The survey was conducted in November 2009 and included responses from 257 IT professionals in the U.S., France, Germany and Japan. Forrester found that virtualization improved IT worker productivity and service quality, but capacity management has emerged as a new challenge. The need for automation and virtualized infrastructure in an overall IT service management movement also surfaced. Forrester says that to reap the full benefits of virtualization, virtualization and services management must be integral to the broader operational process and tools portfolio.

Capacity management is the top operational concern because the exact capacity of the infrastructure is hidden within the complexity of the virtualized systems. According to Forrester, users need improved processes and tools to gain visibility into capacity and infrastructure performance. Without organizational changes and improvements in process discipline, automation and self-service management tools, Forrester says, internal clouds are impossible.

Respondents noted that the skills needed for production use of virtualization are changing, since the technology represents a departure from old operational models. The complexity of virtualization requires automation, which will bring the added effect of staff decreases over time, though relevant skill sets are currently in short supply.

The future evolution of the software as a service trend is to offer management in a more dynamic cloud offering. Eighty-nine percent of respondents place management as a service as one of the top three most important components a virtualization management product/service should offer. Forrester also finds that a top-down, application-centric approach to domain coverage is needed, as application analysis is near the top of desired features for virtualization management.

As day-to-day production responsibility shifts from subject matter experts to operational generalists, Forrester recommends new management and automation tools to minimize the risks.

More information is available in the free report, Virtualization Management and Trends.

Read about some pioneers of virtualization in this month’s Information Management cover story, 25 Top Information Managers.

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