Hope Your Virtualization Knowledge Quotient is High

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It’s not just the rank-and-file knowledge workers who should be clued into the power of virtualization but their managers, all the way up to the C-suite. How do they think IT has been able to deploy more systems over the years without blowing extremely constrained budgets or consuming every inch of available floor space or every KW of power?

 A recent Cisco partner whitepaper titled "Cisco FlexPod Express Study: Virtualization on the Rise, found that 40% of information workers hadn’t heard of server or desktop virtualization. While the lack of knowledge in the workspace is intriguing, the study perhaps says the most about how well IT managers and other high-level executives are integrating virtualization into their companies.

wiredFINANCE finds this incredulous, 40%!  The survey specifically referred to knowledge workers. It wasn’t talking about miners chipping away at rock faces or lumberjacks living deep in the woods for months at a time.  Could it be the high executives who are so clueless? It shouldn’t be you, however, if you have been reading wiredFINANCE here for, say, the past three or four years.  (Actually, the overall white paper is pretty good; you might want to read it.)

Certainly, as the study authors write, virtualization is creating a more efficient IT department behind the scenes. In general, no matter the size of the company or budget, the study found that IT professionals don’t need to be sold on virtualization. Many companies are already realizing the benefits and its adoption should continue to increase until virtualization is simply a mainstay in the workplace.

Still it’s not the rank-and-file knowledge workers who should be clued into the power of virtualization but their managers, all the way up to the C-suite.  How do they think IT has been able to deploy more systems over the years without blowing extremely constrained budgets or consuming every inch of available floor space or every KW of power?  Maybe they think virtualization is magic.

As it turns out, maybe the respondents actually weren’t totally clueless. The researchers found:

  • 95% of respondents who have virtualization in place are seeing an immediate impact on efficiency and cost reduction and 96% feel having virtualization gives them a competitive advantage
  • 61% of respondents ranked improved system scalability as the number one benefit of virtualization
  • Larger companies are making virtualization more of a priority, as 80% of firms with 100 to 500 employees have funds in their IT budget dedicated to virtualization compared to only 50% of firms with less than 100 employees that have funds dedicated to virtualization
  • Still, upper and middle management remain divided on the benefits of virtualization, as 70% of upper management believe virtualization has caused a significant impact on efficiency and cost-savings compared to only 45% of middle management who agree
  • Of firms that don’t have virtualization in place, 61% of middle managers said cost stands as the biggest barrier

This last point should be the most infuriating.  Most non-virtualized servers run at 10% or less utilization. (The best non-virtualized servers might run at 15-20% utilization.) That means a server that costs $10,000 wastes $9000 of its value.  Say an organization has 10 departments, each running its application on a non-virtualized server. How much money is the organization wasting?

Yet, 61% of middle managers say cost stands in the way of virtualization. There are valid reasons not to virtualize servers, but cost should NEVER be one.

Why? Because you can get the basic software for virtualization, the hypervisor, for FREE from a variety of vendors. Microsoft, for example, includes its Hyper-V virtualization software with its Windows Server product. Sure, it is not suitable for any but a small company but it will get you started.  Similarly, VMware, the 900-pound gorilla in the virtualization space, offers a free version too, again mainly to get you started, like training wheels on a bike.  KVM, an open source Linux hypervisor is free and comes built into the latest versions of Linux. Supported by IBM and a slew others along with an active community, KVM is the real thing and free. Like other free open source products, you pay for support, not the product or the license. (With conventional products you pay for both the license and the support.)

By virtualizing servers you can increase your server utilization, effectively boosting your ROI. You can dramatically reduce energy consumption.  You can reduce administration and support costs because there simply are few physical machines to deal with.  You also save on floor space. Virtualization also provides the foundation for all the benefits you can get from cloud computing, starting with pay only for what you use when you use it.

In case you’ve missed it, you can read up on virtualization right at wiredFINANCE  here and here and here. Virtualization isn’t perfect and it certainly isn’t easy, but it is essential for any organization that wants to maximize its IT infrastructure ROI and tap the benefits of cloud computing. 

 

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