Every penny that small business owners spend has to make business sense. So, how can a business determine whether server virtualization is right for it?
To answer this question, CDW surveyed nearly 300 small-business IT professionals through Spiceworks, a social network for the IT community. The result was the CDW Small Business Server Virtualization Roadmap, a technology adoption guide that also details small businesses’ steady progress toward virtualized infrastructures.
For small businesses using virtualization, there’s no question that the technology delivers substantial, measurable benefits.
Of the companies taking part in the survey, 79 percent reported experiencing significant benefits from server virtualization, and 65 percent pointed to improved returns on investment as well.
On average, survey respondents saved 18 percent on IT expenditures by migrating to virtualized server environments, or $19,400 on average annually. Along with these hard numbers, companies also reported other pluses:
- 52 percent improved productivity through streamlined management.
- 51 percent increased uptime.
- 43 percent gained business agility, adaptability and flexibility.
The bottom-line gains can be significant. In the roadmap, CDW’s virtualization engineers explain five ways to reap the greatest savings:
- Smaller physical footprint: Reducing needed floor space can lower a company’s real estate costs and free up space for other purposes.
- Lower hardware costs: By running multiple, independent operating systems on a single server, virtualization drives up utilization rates and drives down hardware purchase and refresh requirements.
- More efficient IT administration: A virtual environment can support quick provisioning for virtual machines through a web browser from almost anywhere on the network, speeding application deployment, systems support and maintenance services.
- Reduced software licensing costs: A business need only pay for the actual licenses used, which typically reduces the overall budget required for software once virtualized servers are deployed.
- Improved power and cooling efficiency: Using fewer servers lets IT departments reconfigure cooling and concentrate it where it’s needed, which means systems use less total energy to remove hot air.
Learn about the successes and challenges businesses face when virtualizing servers.
The roadmap advises any small-business owner considering virtualization to start by analyzing the company’s existing technology infrastructure. That requires deciding whether anyone in the company has the knowledge and expertise to perform the assessment in-house or whether it might make more sense to hire a third party.
For the assessment, the roadmap identifies several questions the company should address: Which servers are compatible with virtualization operating systems? Does the company have adequate storage to support server virtualization? What applications reside on company servers? Are there apps or departments for which the company would rule out virtualization? How will the company measure success?
The more detailed the information compiled, the more complete the comparison your company can make between maintaining services in a traditional versus a virtualized environment. Also, be realistic about how much the transition will cost: A company typically will invest about 23 percent of its IT budget on a virtualization project during the initial two years.
Doing this upfront work will help you zero in on your company’s unique virtualization roadmap and help achieve the flexibility necessary to compete in today’s challenging marketplace.