Virtualization: When Is the Right Time?
Virtualization has been a buzzword for years, but businesses are now finally putting their money where their mouths are. According to Forrester Research, more than half of all businesses — big and small — have virtualized their servers and more than 30 percent have virtualized their operating systems. Virtualization can help your office save money, run more efficiently and get more power out of its machines. Ernst & Young named virtualization the number one strategic technology for 2009.
In this economy every penny counts, so it may be time to stop talking about virtualization and start doing. Here’s how to tell if it’s time to jump on the virtualization wagon:
- You’re tripping over servers — Consolidating your servers not only gives you extra legroom, it also increases performance, slashes hardware acquisition and reduces total cost of ownership by 65 percent, according to Ernst & Young.
- You have more licenses than an underage frat boy — No one has to tell you that software licenses are expensive and can rack up quickly as your business grows. “Tracking license compliance and reharvesting unused licenses can be a significant drain on IT resources, and allowing unused licenses to sit idly can be even more costly,” says Brian Lynah, senior director of Endpoint Virtualization at Symantec. Endpoint virtualization can help IT personnel to centrally manage licenses and reduce software total cost of ownership.
- Your electricity bill is looking more like your rent bill — Reducing the number of physical servers in your office can result in significant, ongoing savings in power consumption and cooling costs. Some businesses report ongoing savings of 30 to 50 percent. Whether you’re concerned about going green or simply saving some green, virtualization can help you get there.
- Your employees see more of your IT guy than they do their own customers — Deploying new applications, changing versions or solving crashes can equal lost time and money while employees sit idly. “Virtualization equates to improved application maintenance, reduced supporting costs and increased user productivity due to less downtime waiting for IT to update applications and solve conflicts,” says Lynah. According to Ernst & Young, your IT operations can be reduced as much as 70 percent with virtualization.
Once you determine that it’s time to invest in virtualization, you need to decide which technology you require. The five basic forms of virtualization are:
- Server (Hardware) Virtualization — Also known as a hypervisor, this is the most common form of virtualization. It separates a physical server into smaller virtual servers.
- OS Virtualization — This form of virtualization enables you to independently run multiple operating systems on a single server.
- Storage Virtualization — Storage virtualization combines the physical storage from multiple network storage devices into a single storage unit.
- Network Virtualization — This combines network resources by splitting available bandwidth into independent channels that are assigned to specific servers or devices.
- Application Virtualization — Similar to OS virtualization, application virtualization enables you to run multiple applications independently on a single server.
When choosing any virtualization solution, keep the following considerations in mind: performance, scalability, platform support, security and management tools. These are all keys to choosing a vendor solution that will help you meet your needs and easily integrate your newly virtualized technology.