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While virtualization should save money, it also requires investment. In particular: host machine hardware. Many managers squawk at the idea of having to buy new servers to implement virtualization. Isnt this technology about reducing servers?
But in fact, many companies opt to buy a few (or more) new servers. Because if youre asking one server to do the work of six, that one server has to be a pretty beefy box.
Unless youre lucky enough to have that honkin server already, what youre going to end up doing and weve talked to customers whove done this is end up putting two or three servers on to one [server], then two or three on to another, Brudzynski says. While these companies saw about a 3 to 1 consolidation ratio, if they bought new [servers], they could have done 10 to 1 or higher.
And there are other costs, including virtualization software, a SAN (which might not be needed), staff training, and possibly consultants fees. On an ongoing basis, the software will need maintenance, and as staff turns over, a business will need to cover training costs. (Plus, hiring staff thats virtualization-savvy might require slightly higher salaries.)
Taking the Plunge: The 12-step plan
For companies considering the plunge in to virtualization, Info-tech identifies twelve critical steps in planning and implementation:
1) Determine the approach; 2) Develop the business case; 3) Gain buy-in from management; 4) Capacity planning and benchmarking; 5) Select hardware; 6) Select software; 7) Resourcing; 8) Application sequencing; 9) Testing; 10) Centralize/consolidate; 11) Migrate; 12) Monitoring and expansion.
Regarding step No. 2, Develop the business case, Brudzynski notes, that entire case is just based on your hardware savings the fact that you dont have to buy servers. Although there are intangible benefits, you dont need those, to prove that virtualization saves dollars.
Step No. 4, Capacity planning, is a particularly crucial step, warns Brudzynski. If you dont get that right, youre going to go through a lot of trial and error when you try and figure out, Should I have five virtual servers on this one [real server], or should I have three, or six? If you do a proper capacity plan you can avoid all that and get it closer to right the first time, as opposed to going back and forth, and having your users complain that its too slow.