GUEST COLUMN: How virtualization could have saved Cyber Monday

Friday, December 2, 2011

By Pedro Vignola, VMware'scommercial manager for the Southern Cone

The rush to get great deals on online purchases during Chile's first Cyber Monday overwhelmed and shut down participating companies' servers. While online shopping in Chile accounts for an average of 1% of total purchases on any other day, this particular day saw an increase of up to 400%, according to the Santiago chamber of commerce.

The traditional way of dealing with such elevated needs has been to invest in physical servers and software at a cost that doesn't just account for the purchase of infrastructure, but also takes into account the energy associated with its operation and cooling, the cost of physical space and human resources. In the virtual world, which is now putting an end to the dependence between software and the hardware that runs it, the answer to demand spikes is easy, agile, flexible and overall less costly.

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During these demand peaks, it's not just the people who get stressed. The data centers and IT teams at these companies are also strained to deliver quick and efficient responses. Why don't we think about anticipating these transactional collapses and abrupt increases in operations that necessitate more storage and processing capacity? The solution ought to have been server virtualization.

If these companies had virtualized their data centers or opted for virtual servers to fulfill the increased demand, they could have achieved optimal time to market for their internal and external clients. This, in turn, may have helped them provide continuous service to Cyber Monday users without running the risk of having infrastructure go unused once the event itself ended.

This is the real meaning of virtualization and cloud computing - making it easier to manage technology and dynamically balance workloads in response to changing business conditions, such as what happened on Monday and ended up as the most-commented negative-trending topic on social networks due to the frustration users suffered when they were unable to complete their purchases.

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