Virtualisation – The Panacea to the Modern Server Room

Why virtualise?

It is very easy to ignore certain buzzwords purely because they are buzzwords. They come with a degree of hype and normally require a good deal of effort to get through that hype to the real meat. With virtualisation you may be missing the boat if you have not invested any time in getting through the hype yet.

I heard a comment a little while ago that the world of IT is made up of 4 kind of leaders, those that have virtualised, those that are in the process of virtualising, those that are planning to virtualise and those who need to dust off the résumé.

Landscape of the server room

Go into your computer room and do a quick audit. Go through the make and models and age of each server. Then do a quick audit of the load on those machines. In most organisations you will find a mix of brand new heavy hitters with the most up to date hardware running one or two critical applications. You will also find some older machines nearing end of life running some important stuff but the organisation needs are met by the current hardware and there is no panic on moving them.

However you will also find a few servers that are out of warranty and probably running an out of date OS. The firmware is up to date but only because the manufacturer has stopped providing updates as the machines end-of-life (eol) has truly come and gone.

When you analyse all of these machines you may be shocked by what you find. The new machines are running at about 30% to 40% utilisation. This is because when you purchased the machine you specified a configuration that will not only meet your needs today but also meet your needs for the next 3 to 5 years. Some of the mid-life servers may be running at 50% to 80% and some of the EOL machines may be running as low as 10%. But nothing will be running at 100%. It may be time to seriously thing about virtualisation!

Why?

The simple answer is that it will maximise the return on your investment in hardware. Those eol machines may just sit there day in, day out troubling nobody but when they go down they are problematic to fix and that application they were running that had a very low priority may suddenly become the most important application in the organisation. Nobody notices these things until they are gone!

The mid-life machines take as much effort to keep up to date as the new machines and they are power hungry by comparison to the latest generation.

Replace them all with virtual machines running on bigger, newer 4 socket boxes and suddenly you will find that your team are spending a lot less time maintaining hardware. You are consuming far less power as you have turned off the older machines as you migrated the applications to virtual machines. Provisioning new machines becomes much simpler and what is more, capacity planning becomes a total breeze. Free up your resources, reduce yoru overheads and most notably deliver real value to the Enterprise.

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