Companies are putting security on the back burner in the rush to virtualise their data centres. That's according to applications delivery vendor F5 which conducted a survey of more than 100 decision makers about their virtualisation plans.

Nearly half of all respondents were adopting virtualisation in their data centre but the rush to do so was at the expense of security. More than two thirds (67 percent) of the organisations surveyed ranked aligning IT to business needs as most important to them - above cost (64 percent), productivity (59 percent ) and security (51 percent).

According to Sam Pickles, lead systems engineer for F5, most enterprises consider this alignment to business to be paramount. "Virtualisation is being adopted very quickly by customers - and coming into full production not just in test environments . This meant that the return on investment of virtualising data centres was so compelling that it offset the security issues. What tended to happen was that the savings from the data centre was such that security budgets were allowed to remain intact."

Companies were also keen to look at a cloud computing model and were more prepared to accept the idea of a shared infrastructure. He said that IT managers were fully aware of the implications - "there was a universal acceptance that a shared environment was intrinsically less secure than a discrete one. But we're quite happy with the idea that the we don't need a single web server per user so we've already accepted some sort of shared infrastructure."

Pickles said that the new environment was presenting a whole new set of challenges. "We now have to cope with an environment in which applications are moving round more than before. It's a situation that's driving a requirement for more integration between apps, network, servers and virtualisation. It's something that version 10 of its Big-IP product is able to cope with very well," he said.