5 Ways to Know You’re Ready for Virtualization

You've heard the hype, now it's time to measure if you really need to jump into the virtualization fray.

To help you avoid those opportunists who jump on new technologies like cockroaches pouncing on freshly fallen cake crumbs—gobbling up the sweet bits and running off into the dark when the lights come on, I’ve compiled 5 simple questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge. Remember all the “sky is falling” Year 2000 experts who convinced you to upgrade, replace, and heavily invest to rid yourself of this virtually (no pun intended) non-existent bug? Some of them are back as virtualization experts and this time they’re out for the rest of your blood. Giving blood voluntarily is a good thing but having it sucked from you by these buzzword-spewing, virtual vampires is painful and expensive.

Here are the 5 questions for you to answer before you voluntarily give up your virtual blood and valuable cash.

1. Is your current computing infrastructure (Servers, Storage, and Desktops) ready for a refresh?

If you bought all, or most, of your current hardware at the time and it’s been somewhere between 3 to 5+ years ago, you are a prime candidate for virtualization.

Instead of making a new investment in short life span hardware, make the leap into virtualized infrastructure and allow those dollars to stretch farther into the future. Increase the overall life of your computing infrastructure by investing in Blade server technology that is scalable and extensible. You’ll alleviate the need to rip and replace hardware every few years with this new technology.

2. Do you support a central location and satellite locations or remote users?

With broadband Internet connectivity and thin client hardware, you can significantly decrease remote support costs through virtualization. Keep your support centrally located with that virtual infrastructure while your remote users enjoy a relatively maintenance free environment. The money saved on support calls and downtime for remote users will more than compensate for initial cash layout for new hardware.

3. Do you have hardware, regardless of its age or condition, that is underutilized?

Simple performance tools exist to measure average utilization for your server systems—use them to get a quantitative analysis. Virtualization takes those underutilized systems and consolidates their workloads onto leveraged hardware and virtual machines. Server consolidation is the most often cited reason for server virtualization. Those underutilized systems use electricity, require cooling, need regular maintenance, and are probably costing money in vendor service contracts. Move those underutilized physical systems to virtual ones.

4. Are you spending too much money on desktop support?

If you’re spending more than 50% of the original desktop computer cost for maintenance and break/fix issues, you’re a good candidate for using virtualized desktops (VDI) or terminal services. Using thin client terminals and virtual desktops or terminal services, your desktop support maintenance will decrease. Most thin client hardware has no moving parts, which removes a large number of support calls for failed hardware issues. By moving to a virtual desktop solution or by using terminal services, you also decrease support issues related to viruses, rogue software installation, pirated software, spyware, and other user-induced software problems.

5. Are backup and restore issues driving you crazy?

Most companies develop disaster recovery plans after a disaster occurs. Fingers point in every direction and arguments ensue often ending in either job loss or creating strained working relationships between groups or departments. Virtualization doesn’t remove the need for backups but it does rid administrators of the constant battle for network bandwidth for those backups. Various backup methods are available for virtual machine infrastructure that requires no over the network traffic: Disk to disk backups, snapshots, and V2V (Virtual to Virtual) copies are some of the possibilities.

A ‘yes’ answer to any one of these questions may provide the impetus you need for the decision to pursue a virtualized infrastructure solution but a ‘no’ answer to all of them means you should seriously reconsider the move. Beware of anyone who has all the answers but asks you no questions—whether or not you see the fangs; you’d be wise to show them the door and not your neck.

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