The following column appeared in the May 2010 edition of the Central Illinois Business Magazine.
The Benefits of Virtualization
How this technology can improve infrastructure performance and lower costs
By Jeff Facer, Owner and CEO, Area-Wide Technologies
In computing, the benefits of virtualization are often perceived to be strictly confined to cost savings. To be sure, many companies benefit greatly from server virtualization—which allows multiple operating systems to be installed on a single server—because it reduces the amount of hardware that is required to run all the software needed by the business. Consolidating servers using a virtualization process not only provides savings in terms of how many physical machines must be bought and maintained, but also potentially reduces the amount of physical space that a company needs for its servers.
Since computer virtualization allows a variety of operating systems and software configuration settings to be used on a single machine, application virtualization provides a much more flexible way for companies to run applications. Without virtualization, for example, a company might need to bear the cost of running five separate servers with different operating systems, or different configurations in order to run all of the applications needed for the operation of business. The flexibility benefits of virtualization mean that all those operating systems and applications could potentially be run on a single piece of hardware. Accordingly, the efficient use of hardware can be one of the biggest benefits of virtualization.
Furthermore, virtualization enables a businesses to save significantly on electric costs. One server with a 850 watt power supply running in a virtualized environment can yield the same computing power as four separate servers with four 850 watt power supplies doing the same thing. This is not only good for the environment, but for your pocket book as well.
Another area of computing that can reap large benefits from virtualization is product testing. The testing part of a computing project is often a high overhead endeavor that requires relatively expensive resources, and a lot of time. Virtualization tools allow software testers to quickly and easily set up and maintain testing environments, and to rapidly restore testing environments to their original state when required. So, if you want to try a new piece of software for your business, but you don’t want to install this on a production server, virtualization makes this simple and easy.
Ease of application deployment is another of the benefits of virtualization. Computing projects are often resource intensive in terms of deployment. Virtualization allows for the easy creation of base computing environments, and largely removes issues of hardware compatibility. This can save costs and time in rolling out new or changed computing systems and applications.
Windows software costs are significantly lower in a virtualized environment. With Windows Server Enterprise version, four separate Windows Servers can be configure on one piece of hardware. This will save you several thousand dollars in software costs alone. Add to this the massive savings in purchasing one high-powered server versus four average servers, and the cost savings can easily exceed $10,000.
Last, but certainly not least, virtualization is the first step in a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. Virtual servers allow for quick configuration and resource assignment. Applications can quickly be moved from one virtual server to another, minimizing down time in a disaster situation.
So, when it’s time for a server upgrade, consider virtualization as a good alternative to meet your long-term IT needs.
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