BFSI VISION | Virtualization


K N C Nair

Chief Information Officer, Muthoot Finance Ltd

Taking Virtualization to the next level for better productivity

Virtualization has been resorted to since the days of mainframe computers to conserve the expensive system resources at the time. Later on, in the client-server era, the cost of resources reduced drastically leading to "one server, one application". This resulted in underutilization of resources. In the last few years, organisations have been using virtualization technology to consolidate resources, reduce costs, and improve management of their server and storage infrastructure.

The Muthoot Group has been an early adaptor of virtualization technology to achieve better efficiencies and agility in its IT infrastructure management in tune with its business growth. Mostly virtualisation here has been confined to the non-production and non-critical systems. We have been using technologies like Vmware and Hyper-V for consolidating the large number of x86 servers deployed for various business applications.

In the next phase, we plan to move the mission-critical Core Banking Solution (CBS) production servers also into virtual environment using RISC based platform. Also some of the applications needing temporary or ad hoc peak load processing capabilities will be moved to private Cloud.

Virtualization needs a holistic strategy so as to ensure benefits it was hoped to achieve. For instance, by ignoring the impact server virtualization has on the storage environment, the data center network, and users, organizations can experience management complexity, application degradation, inadequate business continuity policies, and, ultimately, increased costs. Also, some organizations that implement server virtualization strategies are having difficulties in maintaining data protection and data security policies as their infrastructures grow increasingly fluid and complex. Unlike protecting and securing static systems the policies should be suitably aligned to mitigate the increased risk due to additional complexity, mobility, and the growing number of applications.

Also we should not overvalue the Return On Investment (ROI) and undervalue the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) expected from the new architecture—failing to properly assess the implementation's impact on application performance, infrastructure costs, and management requirements. We should also assess the potential impact on each application before virtual deployments are attempted, which will help to reduce risk, decrease costs, speed time to deployment, and ultimately improve service levels.

A phased approach is advisable for organization to achieve virtualization, say to start with a test pilot program and cautiously moving workloads from physical servers onto virtualized servers or into the cloud later. Virtualization can save substantial costs and enhance IT services tremendously, when done systematically with a good roadmap.