Industry experts continually tout cost savings as a key factor fueling the trend toward server virtualization, and a recent VMware-sponsored survey found that 70 percent of IT managers who made the switch did so to avoid the cost of buying large amounts of hardware.
But there are also many other benefits, such as a greater control of recovering system and application quickly from a disaster, better protection of data, the flexibility to free up IT administration tasks and shift them for important projects and the ability to quickly respond to business demands rather than performing routine maintenance tasks.
Spending less time on drills and tests and provisioning new application faster is a benefit of virtualization that has provided IT departments with the breathing room needed to focus on innovations that meet real business needs.
So, let’s take a look at a few real-world examples, abstracted from VMware interviews with customers, of companies benefiting from more than cost savings with virtualization.
The IT staff at Acorda Therapeutics, a biotech company with nearly 400 employees, used to spend entire weekends testing disaster-recovery plans to meet federal safety guidelines. But a recovery manager project significantly reduced the time needed to conduct drills, said Josh Bauer, Acorda’s senior manager for network operations.
In test environments, recovery managers function just as they would in actual emergencies, allocating server resources and performing other tasks automatically. By contrast, replicating files to a failover site in systems that are not virtualized can take an average of 40 hours.
Also, recovery managers allow IT personnel to run drills remotely. “Now, with SRM [VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager], we can do it from our own homes and just create a test right then and there,” Bauer said. “Within hours, it’s up and running.”
Simplified IT management
When George Reed was hired as chief information officer at Seven Corners travel insurance, he soon learned the company was being powered by 140 desktop machines functioning as servers.
“The Smithsonian Institution kind of wanted their stuff back,” Reed joked in a recent video.
The antiquated setup simply could not handle the workload of a company that had experienced 10 consecutive years of double-digit growth. A major insurance servicing application that Seven Corners relied on was constantly crashing as a result, Reed said.
Although most desktops aren’t designed to run around-the-clock, most servers are specifically designed to run constantly and withstand higher temperatures.
So Reed made virtualization a priority to equip Seven Corners with a more reliable IT environment and reduce the amount of time spent on day-to-day maintenance.
Reed ultimately slashed the time required to set up a new server from four-to-five days to four-to-five minutes, significantly reducing IT labor costs and boosting productivity.
Enhanced business responsiveness
CharterCARE Health Partners, a Rhode Island-based healthcare provider employing more than 500 doctors, relied on its virtualized environment to expand the number of computers that practitioners could use to access patient files, said Mike Marseglia, the company’s network engineer.
“We’re able to provision desktops quickly and provide them for our most critical business applications, such as our electronic medical records,” he said.
Being able to scale up or down quickly has become particularly important in the healthcare industry, which is undergoing a period of consolidation amid reforms and efforts to lower costs. Healthcare providers are looking to digital solutions, such as electronic health records, to deliver the efficiencies they’re seeking.
Different companies, shared business concerns
These are specific examples of virtualization ROI that will, no doubt, differ from your company’s set of challenges. But consider the commonalities: the need to automate processes and make IT infrastructure accessible, scalable and secure. You are likely to also share those needs.
The companies referenced here have chosen VMware vSphere as a starting point. It’s a platform on which additional virtualization solutions can be built. Maybe if you want to explore whether your company should, too, you can start by checking out VMware’s virtualization home page for more details.
Nick Clunn is an award-winning journalist who has worked for several websites and daily newspapers, including The Record in New Jersey. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at Montclair State University. Follow him @NickClunn.Tags: Data Center,IT Security,Technology,Virtualization