Top 10 benefits of server virtualization

Top 10 benefits of server virtualization

Server virtualization on the x86 platform has been around now for more than a decade. And yet many in the industry still consider it a “new” technology. But those of us who have already widely adopted the technology in our own environments have grown to believe that it’s something we could not live without. Many of us also have the opinion that there is simply no going back to a “physical-only world.”

As hard as it might be for fellow enthusiasts to wrap their arms around it, there are still many people out there who have yet to drink the virtual Kool-Aid. Fellow Kool-Aid drinkers may be asking themselves, “Why is that?” And that’s a great question.

Server virtualization has been a game-changing technology for IT, providing efficiencies and capabilities that just aren’t possible when constrained within a physical world. And while server virtualization has continued to mature and advance itself, some virtualized organizations are still not taking full advantage of the offering — stalling their virtual environment at something far less than the 100% virtualized data center of the hardcore virtual administrator.

There are many benefits to an IT organization or business when choosing to implement a server virtualization strategy. And with the technology we have today, there’s no reason to remain idle and simply watch the parade on the sidelines. If you are still waiting to get into the game, here are 10 great reasons why you should be jumping into the server virtualization game with both feet. These are tried and true benefits that have withstood the test of time (in this case, the last 10 years).

10. Save energy, go green
OK, maybe you aren’t a “save the whales” or “tree hugging” type of person. That’s cool. I don’t wear the T-shirts either. But seriously, who isn’t interested in saving energy in 2011? Migrating physical servers over to virtual machines and then consolidating them onto far fewer physical servers means lowering monthly power and cooling costs in the data center. This was an early victory chant for server virtualization vendors back in the early part of 2000, and it still holds true today.

9. Reduce the data center footprint
This one goes hand in hand with the previous benefit. In addition to saving more of your company’s green with a smaller energy footprint, server consolidation with virtualization will also reduce the overall footprint of your entire data center. That means far fewer servers, less networking gear, a smaller number of racks needed, etc. — all of which translates into less data center floor space required. And that can further save you money if you don’t happen to own your own data center and instead make use of a co-location facility.

8. QA/lab environments
After completing a server consolidation exercise in the data center, why not donate that hardware to a QA group or build out a lab environment? Virtualization allows you to easily build out a self-contained lab or test environment, operating on its own isolated network. If you don’t think this is useful or powerful, just look to VMware‘s own tradeshow, VMworld. This event creates one of the largest public virtual labs I’ve ever experienced, and it truly shows off what you can do with a virtual lab environment. While this is probably way more lab than you’d ever actually need in your own environment, you can see how building something like this would be cost prohibitive with purely physical servers, and in many cases, technologically improbable.

7. Faster server provisioning
As a data center administrator, imagine being able to provide your business units with near instant-on capacity when a request comes down the chain. Server virtualization enables elastic capacity to provide system provisioning and deployment at a moment’s notice. You can quickly clone a gold image, master template, or existing virtual machine to get a server up and running within minutes. Remember that the next time you have to fill out purchase orders, wait for shipping and receiving, and then rack, stack, and cable a physical machine only to spend additional hours waiting for the operating system and applications to complete their installations. I’ve almost completely forgotten what it’s like to click Next > Next > Next.

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