Nowadays, faced with increasingly strong competition, businesses are still putting a lot of effort into cutting their operating costs. But they are also demonstrating that they are prepared to invest in anything that can help them to differentiate themselves: a key competitive advantage. As a vital stakeholder in all business processes, the IT Department is being asked more than ever before to get involved in this twin-track approach, and to rapidly exploit all the opportunities offered by the latest technologies.
Against this backdrop, virtualization is taking on a whole new dimension. It has now reached maturity – having demonstrated its relevance and potential on small-scale but very worthwhile projects over a number of years – and entered into a new era where, for the IT Department, it is becoming a valuable tool to support the organization’s broad strategic goals.
Virtualization now allows you to go well beyond simply consolidating a few secondary servers; in order to leverage its full benefits and meet real business challenges, there is the prospect of virtualizing the entire IT infrastructure. That includes critical application servers, not to mention storage, archiving, back-ups, middleware… all areas that are sometimes underestimated but which are in fact vital links in the chain if you are to achieve the highest possible levels of performance which are now being expected.
So this second ‘wave’ of virtualization is much more than just a process of rationalization and substitution: it is a positive technological transformation that creates real value. Not only can the infrastructure be used and fine-tuned more effectively, it is more reliable, energy-efficient and flexible, and can mirror the rapid evolution of the business, as new services or products are introduced or geographic or organizational boundaries are redrawn. The second wave of virtualization is also marked by a change in scale: these days, international companies often operate at a pan-continental level, setting up centralized, industrial-scale Data Centers that provide computing resources to their business units following a ‘utility’ model, which opens up the way to Cloud Computing.
Although these new-generation virtualized infrastructures promise to deliver significant benefits – with ROI measured months rather than years – they are, however, highly complex. So it is hard for IT Departments to maintain the expert skills needed to operate them and to ensure that they evolve successfully over the long term. As a result, businesses are increasingly turning to providers of infrastructure services and managed services who can take responsibility for their systems, to a greater or lesser extent, through outsourcing arrangements.
This is what has happened on the project that Bull is running for Netherlands-based business PaperlinX Europe, one of the largest distributors of paper, sign & display products and packaging materials in Europe. Now that Bull has designed and delivered a complete overhaul of its infrastructure, based around virtualized systems, PaperlinX has entrusted its operation to the company. Handing over this degree of responsibility, for even the organization’s most critical systems, involves building up a very high level of trust in your supplier. And Bull has all the attributes needed to be one of the leading players in this new market.
Bull has made the virtualization of infrastructures based on Wintel servers one of the cornerstones of its strategy, and is capitalizing on its proven expertise in this area, built up over many years working on big virtualization projects involving Unix systems, using Escala™ servers. Through the course of these projects – and thanks to its extremely close relationships with solution publishers, especially VMWare, the acknowledged market leader – Bull has successfully established a body of expertise and skills that is unrivalled in Europe.
In addition, as ‘Architect of an Open World’, Bull is not hampered by having to use its own proprietary operating system, which means it can deal with what are usually extremely heterogeneous environments in an impartial way. And finally, suppliers like Bull who are involved in the entire infrastructure value chain right through to its day-to-day operation, and can therefore take on such projects from start to finish, are extremely rare.
Our experience, our expertise and our ability to build extremely close, lasting and mutually beneficial working relationships with our customers, means that Bull is one of the essential players in this new ‘Age of Virtualization’. We are one of the few capable of providing end-to-end support for organizations as they undertake the strategic transformation of their infrastructures: as an IT maker, with novascale bullion™, the world’s first x86 server designed for native virtualization of critical systems; as an integrator, with a network of specialist practices in each country and the support of dedicated centers of expertise and state-of-the-art R&D; and as an outsourcer, with a range of managed services that deliver guaranteed flexibility, performance and scalability. Undoubtedly, that explains why Bull’s business activities relating to virtualization are currently achieving growth rates well ahead of the market.
For more information about our Europeanwide roadshow “Data Center next generation – Pushing back the limits of virtualization” run together with EMC, Intel and VMware >>> http://www.bull.com/bulldirect/N47/agenda.html#roadshow