Preparing for Virtualization


In the last couple of weeks, I have been asked to participate in several meetings with our virtualization specialists to help a client with a few issues.  Now, I know very little about the technical aspects of virtualization, but I do know a few things about processes and organizations.  So, when they asked me my thoughts on one of the issues (application deployment), my first thought was to find out how they performed that function with a physical server.  We then mapped out their process.  Next we mapped how it should be done in a virtual environment.  And lastly, we mapped how they were actually doing it in the virtual environment.

Comparing the way they did it with a physical server to the way they were doing it with a virtual machine, we quickly discovered nothing had changed.  They were trying to do things the same way.

IT organizations constantly complain that when they put in new technology, the business users never achieve the full benefit of the technology because they refuse to change the way they do things (and IT then gets blamed for the technology underachieving expectations).  But who to blame when the ‘business’ user is IT?  It will either be the consultant who helped them put it in, or the technology itself.  Excuses like, “we tried virtualization and it just didn’t work here” or “virtualization is just not for us” start to be voiced, and, viola, the technology once again failed to meet expectations.

Why did the virtualization project fail? Because we focused on the wrong things; we focused on the technology and ignored the process and people. 

We must learn to focus on the process, engaging the people, while preparing for the technology. (see more here and here)

Virtualization is a tool.  It is a technology that, to get the full benefit, requires the IT organization to change the way they do certain things.  If you don’t change the way you do things, you won’t ever get the benefit of the tool.  Intuitively, everyone knows this.  But how many are doing something about it?

If you are heading into a virtualization project or expanding on work you’ve already started, it is imperative you review your processes for how you do things currently in the ‘physical’ world, and how you’ll do things in the future in the ‘virtual’ world.  Not doing so will limit your potential.

Let me know your thoughts!


Glenn Whitfield


3 Responses to Preparing for Virtualization

  1. Mary Adams says:

    I am not an IT expert. But, as a management consultant, it is hard to avoid IT. It is so integral to every corporation. And, like you, I believe the focus needs to be on the process, people and networks rather than the underlying technology.

    By the way these three areas of focus are collectively called intellectual capital. IT is is the enabler of the creation of intellectual capital–which is ultimately the business aim of almost every business today. Most businesses get paid for what they know, not what they own.

    This means that IT has a real opportunity–it could be at the center of the strategy and operations of corporations–if it is ready to move beyond its tool focus and look at the big picture.

    Maybe a good analogy is that IT should be the general contractor rather than selling electrical, plumbing and carpentry.

  2. Mary,

    I agree that IT is in a unique position to really make a difference in an organization, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The question is, will they step up and take it on? Some of the IT folks I talk with just don’t see themselves doing that, or they feel the corporate culture will not allow it, despite my pressing them. There’s an opportunity, they just have to go for it!

    Thanks for the comments!

  3. […] was inspired by a great post here from IT Business Alignment blog that talked about the need for IT to focus on business, not […]

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