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Virtualization, what is it and why should I Virtualize?


Answer: It's all about saving money!


Virtualization is the next generation of business computing and data center architecture. Virtualization allows a company to run many servers and computing services, on a single server computer.

Virtual servers are run as a software instance on a computer configured to run multiple “virtual” servers simultaneously. The virtual server runs just like it does when running on a dedicated machine, and the operating system is virtually allocated memory, processing power, and storage space. However, the computer running that specific server can also run several other services and software “virtual” servers, with resources allocated for each virtual server as required individually and exclusively.

If the administrator wants to add a new server, they can create one virtually without the need to go purchase additional hardware to run the server. Due to the fact that many services only require a portion of the system resources at any given time, a robust system configured with significant memory, processing power, and storage capacity, can accommodate multiple servers and business systems with ease.

Quite simply virtualizing your server infrastructure can save you time, money and labor. It can also save energy, requires less real estate, and reduces the need to purchase hardware that depreciates rapidly. In fact, some companies can run their entire business on a single machine as opposed to a rack full of machines.

But how does this technology save you money?

Often times when businesses consider deployment of new technology they only examine the cost of the equipment, software and warranty plans. But what about the power it takes to run the hardware? And how about the power required for the air conditioning and ventilation systems which cool the room where the hardware resides? Additionally hardware systems require surge protectors, power supplies, peripheral devices and accessories and rack space. Let’s not forget about the real estate to house the equipment.

When virtualizing servers, you will be required to purchase robust hardware, meaning systems that are reliable, secure, and durable. But remember, systems meeting these standards typically have a lower total cost of ownership because they require less maintenance, propose less of a threat to business continuance, and are less likely to blow up in your face, in general.

You will also need to have staff on your team that are capable of managing the virtualized environment, but for the most part companies that host multiple servers and computing services already have staff onboard, and a consolidated, simplified infrastructure is much easier for the staff to manage, it is certainly easier than running multiple services on multiple hardware systems.

"So, where’s my savings?"
The savings come it two forms, hard-cost savings and soft-cost savings. The hard costs are usually fixed and very straight forward, the soft costs are variable but apparent through the lifecycle of ownership.

Hard and soft costs...
I served a medium-sized company as a client recently and I will use them as example of both hard savings and soft savings. The company was able to reduce their hardware resources from (8) eight physical servers to (2) two physical servers. The customer was no longer required to purchase so much equipment for the same deployment when hardware upgrades are due, they simply purchase two new servers instead of eight new servers, hard cost savings. That also meant that they were no longer required to maintain warranty contracts for eight servers, just two, more hard cost savings. They reduced the number and size of UPS (uninterruptable power supplies) required in the data center. Furthermore, when changes, adds and moves are required, they manage it all from one central interface instead of logging into eight separate servers using KVMs and other peripherals that cost money, wear out frequently, create clutter and add extra steps. So, they saved on server hardware, server warranties, and peripheral accessories, and also the "hard" or "fixed" costs were reduced throughout.

This company had a major cooling challenge.

The data closet was so hot… how hot was it? The computer room was so hot that staff members positioned high velocity fans in front of the closet and in front of the network rack, in order to extract heat to and keep the hardware from melting. The fans transferred heat to the rest of the office. Not only was the sound unbearable and annoying, the air conditioning was kept “on” throughout the office zone, and everyone working in that area were forced to endure frigid air in their workspace. It kept the servers cool but conversely the technicians had to tolerate the extracted hot air being forced through their workspace by the high velocity fans in the server room.

This created a mix of variable costs. The cost to power eight servers, and the high velocity fans which increased dramatically in recent years with the increase in energy prices, and of course the power to constantly run air-conditioning was quite expensive. The UPS and other accessories required more power in addition to the core systems. The employees hated working in that zone of the office. By virtualizing their server infrastructure, they were able to get rid of the high velocity fans and place the servers in a smaller zone, reducing electrical bills, and improving the comfort level of the office space, employee productivity and morale improved dramatically for those staff members affected, a soft cost which plays an important role in any business.

Then there is the soft cost of real estate. Now albeit a small business with eight servers was not required to rent the Taj Mahal in order to accommodate the equipment, however real estate in Los Angeles County is not cheap. If you have a machine room of  any significance you are certainly paying for every square foot of space. In a city where studios, design firms, and editing suites abound, large machine rooms and computer closets can raise the rent, especially if your company is growing and adding resources, or moving to a new location. Real estate is a variable cost, but it is a stark reality for a business manager, regardless of the current state of the real estate market in today’s economy.

Modern and advanced virtualization technology enables business owners, managers and network administrators to make changes, adds and moves with ease from a central control panel. With high availability options, a virtualized network can prepare your business for disasters or disruptions and keep you open for business at all times without disrupting workflow for your employees and without interruption of service to your customers. Staying open for business is a less tangible cost to calculate, but getting back up and running after a major disaster, outage, or unforeseen business interruption, well that’s priceless. Virtualization empowers a business with high availability configurations like never before, providing you the security of always being open for business.

In conclusion, companies deploying a virtual server infrastructure enjoy the following business benefits, hard savings, soft savings, and efficiencies.

  • Less hardware to purchase and maintain and lower shipping costs

  • Less power consumption for systems and cooling systems

  • Less real estate required, less rack-space required, less floor space required

  • Less labor required to manage and operate

  • Lower operational expenses, reduce outage and failure expenses

  • Centrally managed, thus easier to manage

  • Easier to rebuild a server, easier to deploy a server

  • Easier adds/changes/moves

  • Faster troubleshooting, less overall downtime

  • More flexible management, less physical management

  • Better backup, more backup options, simpler back up, improved recovery process

  • Makes remote backup easier and less complicated

  • Easier to cool, less expensive to cool

  • Build new servers in software, quickly

  • Reduce usage of electricity (for related equipment, cooling, backup power)

  • Improved performance (i.e. users not having to wait, maintain money making ability)

  • Lower cost for hardware insurance

  • Streamline Information Technology related personnel

  • Reduce corporate level management time

  • Lower your carbon footprint

  • Lower testing costs

  • Hardware agnostic platform

Let us help you virtualize your world. Contact Perivue