Empowering Virtualizing and Data Storage Platforms

Amin Kassem, VP, IT Administration, Humana
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Amin Kassem, VP, IT Administration, Humana

Virtualization and storage are like the Wizard of Oz– extremely powerful yet functioning largely behind the curtain of a business’s customer-facing technologies. A company’s ability to quickly stand up environments to test new technologies without wasted time or expense, are key to the ability to innovate. Additionally, virtualization can help reduce administrative costs.  

“Virtualization and data storage help seamlessly deliver the wishes of consumers” 

LEVER ONE – VIRTUALIZATION 

Virtualization environments are evolving to focus on automation, server delivery time improvement, and reducing complexity and effort. As virtualization advances, companies are better able to bring the consumer-valued products to market and develop their enterprise, mobile, and business systems. By creating an infrastructure platform for innovation, virtualization increases computing availability, the effectiveness of commodity environments and the flexibility of infrastructure resources.  

It is critical when developing the methodology for virtualization that Information Technology understands where the business wants to be in the future. The goal is to anticipate directional need without losing sight of the value of virtualization by focusing too heavily on specific features. Automation and orchestration of server virtualization requires multiple disciplines to come together and agree on a common solution. 

Keeping an eye on the (yellow brick) road ahead requires understanding business needs, as well as the needs of those who are going to use virtualization in the process of creating new business capabilities. As development methodologies advance and users become more mobile, engineering teams are becoming more agile, expecting more control of the infrastructure. Virtualization platforms are the enablers of new methods of consumption, reducing business development time-to-delivery by allowing infrastructure to be delivered on-demand. 

The next step for many companies– including health and well-being company Humana– goes beyond server virtualization to researching application virtualization, which insulates applications from the business’s operating system and provides even greater flexibility. 

 LEVER TWO – STORAGE 

The capabilities of a storage platform are fully delivered when it is protected by a layered security (instead of perimeter-only), and it works in concert with server virtualization to provide building blocks for a broad range of business solutions.  

Companies may develop storage-specific virtualization solutions to provide transparent local and remote site mobility. These software-defined systems can help with security and mobility. Abstracting the data provides greater control and visibility and can include safeguards to prevent data loss.  

Some considerations for selecting a storage platform are: Is it flexible to support changing business needs and infrastructure? Does it have a track record of continuous improvement and industry acceptance? Is it scalable and able to support the realities of explosive growth? Is it highly reliable (downtime and outages impact an IT team’s ability to support the corporate mission)? Are data center, direct cloud, and remote site interconnectivity functionality integrated? 

Explosive growth is one of the greatest challenges to storage environment, regardless of industry. Based on research, this extreme growth is likely to continue to accelerate in the future. In addition to ensuring the storage platform can handle explosive growth, companies need to recruit and retain highly skilled talent to support these platforms. 

As a final, yet important, note about security, the quality of security should be balanced against infrastructure design requirements, which allows companies to maintain a strong, secure platform through an ongoing healthy tension of needs. 

Virtualization and storage help seamlessly deliver the wishes of consumers. Even if they never realize it. 

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