Unique architecture for each business-critical application or standardize for efficiency?I spend a lot of time talking with IT leaders around the world, so I get a first-hand account of the struggles, tradeoffs, and effective approaches of their IT transformation and journey to cloud, especially in dealing with business-critical databases and applications, like Oracle, SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint and SAP. Frankly it’s the part of my job that I value the most, and there’s always a concentration of these discussions at EMC World. I consistently hear stories of vast landscapes of business-critical production, development and test environments that consume nearly 2/3 of the total IT budget. Why? Each business-critical environment seems big enough for its own unique infrastructure; they’re too important to clump all together in one big homogenized infrastructure; and well, it’s always been done this way.But the results have been less than spectacular.Sure, there’s been progress across the industry. “Standardization” seems to be everyone’s theme. Oracle, Microsoft and SAP have all been offering strategies to standardize within their own field of vision. Take Oracle’s “engineered systems” for example. It applies standardization vertically and promises optimized levels of IT performance and IT productivity – at least for a part of IT. That doesn’t mean that standardization is a compromise — it just means that standardization needs to be broadly applied to be effective for all business-critical applications.A vertical approach for a specific database, custom-written application, or one vendor’s stack is not easily leveraged across a virtual cloud computing environment.We have to guard against the illusion of greater IT efficiency for one database or application that may actually create barriers to efficiency for IT as a whole and increase TCO.EMC faced this challenge as we standardized our own business-critical applications infrastructure that included Oracle, SAP and Exchange. Like many of our customers, our experience proved that virtual infrastructure can achieve the standardization gains across IT while being able to optimize specific application and database requirements.I provided specific examples of this at my keynote address during EMC World. Just a small amount of flash in virtualized Oracle databases in online transaction processing (OLTP) and Data Warehouse workloads delivers extreme levels of performance. How much? Nearly 3 million random I/Os per second for Oracle OLTP environments and over 28 GB/second read scan performance with over 20 TB/hour data loads for Oracle data warehouses. More importantly, this standardized approach of flash and virtualization makes a measurable impact on the long-term TCO. A recent post by Wikibon.orghighlights the impact of how a small amount of flash, combined with virtualization of Oracle production database servers, can dramatically impact hardware, software and maintenance TCO over a 3-year period.The best news is that this is a repeatable practice. To help our customers optimize their unique Oracle environments, EMC has created an open, online community for Oracle customers to engage directly with EMC’s global solutions experts. Here, Oracle DBAs and IT infrastructure teams can access dozens of tested and proven solutions, training materials and case studies from EMC/Oracle customers who have achieved impressive performance and efficiency results virtualizing their Oracle database environments.When it comes to performance and efficiency for business-critical apps, whether it be Oracle databases, SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint or SAP, you don’t have to settle for a compromise.