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Forget virtual machine management -- go to the cloud

There are still many IT shops that have not virtualized the majority of their servers. Many still haven’t moved virtual machines (VMs) to a production environment yet. In fact, some may sidestep deploying their own virtual machines altogether.

Why not buy virtual machine infrastructure as a service, or VMIaaS, and skip the virtual machine management nightmare of VM sprawl and zombie VMs.

I made that acronym up, but the point is that some SMBs could skip the virtualization vendors — VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Red Hat, Oracle, etc. — and go straight to the cloud providers — Amazon, Google, Rackspace, SunGard and IBM — for an out-of-the-box hosted VM service.

Leave it up to the cloud providers to figure out why one VM is sucking the life out of the others in a cluster, or why the accounting department’s VM suddenly shuts down. After all, if analyst firms like Gartner are right, all virtualization roads lead to the cloud, so why not let the cloud providers configure your VMs for you?

That is not to say that midmarket companies aren’t choosing to deploy their own VMs. Midmarket companies’ adoption of virtual machines is expected to surpass the adoption rate under way in F500 companies within a year, said Gartner analyst Tom Bittman during a recent webinar.

Another Gartner survey found that by the end of 2010, 29% of all workloads running on x86 servers will be running in VMs. And by 2012, half of all workloads are expected to be running in VMs, according to the firm.

And if you are deploying your own virtual machines and developing your own virtual machine management strategy, think in terms of the lifecycle of the VM. I’m not just talking about putting policies and tools in place that track who has permission to set up a virtual machine, what resources a given VM is allowed to use, or when a given VM should be retired and repurposed.

Virtual machines are not static, they move around, and they could very well end up … in the cloud. So IT shops may want to keep in mind whether or not their VMs can be moved to the cloud, not just from a security perspective, but in terms of the technology they have chosen and whether or not that technology will be one supported by cloud providers in the long run.

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