There are many reasons why SMBs choose to virtualize their servers, but one of the biggest reasons is to get more performance out of their existing server resources. It’s no secret in the IT world that servers are often underutilised – some server utilisation rates are as low as 5-15 percent. When considering the rising costs of data centres, many SMBs are starting to ask why they can’t get more efficiency out of their server space.
In addition to the inefficiency, another drawback of physical servers is that they are prone to crashes. Server crashes often result from applications fighting for scarce resources, and downtime can be costly – the average cost of an hour of server downtime is $23,1886.
Finally, many SMBs decide to virtualize their servers after realising that their staff are devoting too much time to managing servers. According to research from VMWare, 9 out of 10 IT departments spend a majority of their time on routine tasks such as “adding and managing new server workloads, adding new employees or developing and launching new applications.
“Big Picture Benefits” of Server Virtualization
Every SMB’s situation is different, but most SMBs can expect to see the following “big picture” results from server virtualization:
Improve server utilisation: Server virtualization helps SMBs make more efficient usage of their server space by consolidating multiple physical assets onto one virtual system.
Reduce total cost of ownership of IT assets: Server virtualization can reduce costs both in terms of capital expenses (cost of buying new servers or installing a new server farm) and in ongoing expenses (lower monthly energy bills for powering/cooling a data centre, lower labour costs for the IT department).
Improve security and reduce risk of crashes: Server virtualization leads to more secure servers, less downtime, and better business continuity.
Reduce staff time devoted to server management: This is one of the hidden benefits of server virtualization, in that it can often transform the IT department from a “maintenance team” performing routine tasks, to a more responsive “strategic” team that can help the business focus on higher level goals.
According to a survey from leading virtualization provider VMWare, there are many reasons why SMBs are deciding to virtualize their servers. Here are the top-cited reasons, in order of prevalence:
Improve server utilisation (cited by 72% of SMBs)
Reduce or contain the number of servers (57%)
Improve availability and uptime (48%)
Improve server and application management (47%)
Improve data backup and protection (47%)
Perhaps the biggest and most surprising reason that SMBs choose to virtualize their servers is not simply for cost savings or server utilisation, but for broader business operations – server virtualization gives SMBs additional flexibility and agility in how they use their IT assets. Simple cost savings is not always the biggest driver for SMBs – after all, most SMBs, just by nature of their size, do not have as extensive of an investment in server resources; the biggest cost savings from server virtualization tend to go to larger enterprises that have larger data centres (and thus have bigger operating expenses waiting to be reduced).
Instead, the biggest “game changer” of server virtualization for SMBs is that it gives these businesses new ways to use their servers and new ways to deploy their IT specialists.
The above is an extract from the 2011 Server Virtualization Buyer’s Guide for Small and Medium Businesses. You can access this complimentary guide here.