Getting a Handle on Virtualization's Costs

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

When Is It Right for a Business to Consider Desktop Virtualization?

Tips for determining whether desktop virtualization is right for your business.

It's a given: Virtualization saves you money. Increased utilization reduces your hardware requirements, which lowers costs in both capital and operating budgets. What's not to like?


It turns out, plenty. In the first place, much of the cost savings pitched by the virtualization crowd can be illusory, depending on how well you've structured your overall data environment. As Forrester's James Staten pointed out to Computerworld recently, increased costs outside of the server farm, mainly in storage, is the main reason why so many enterprises are experiencing the dreaded "virtual stall" - the point at which increased virtualization fails to deliver on its initial promises.


At the heart of this problem lies a fundamental oversight on the part of many CIOs. There simply is not enough awareness of current infrastructure costs and benefits, so it's nearly impossible to tell whether virtualization or any other significant upgrade, like the cloud, is truly living up to its promises. This is primarily due to a lack of appropriate resources. According to Alex Bewley, CTO of Uptime Software, there is no shortage of tools for measuring things like availability and performance, but there is a clear lack of systems aimed at measuring workload/application costs and sounding alarms when predetermined thresholds are crossed.


That may be about to change as enterprises become more savvy about what to expect from virtual/cloud technologies. Software developer VMTurbo, for example, has built a new "monetary evaluation tool" into its Virtualization Management Suite, which includes a financial calculator and simulation capabilities to gauge the cost impact of various virtualization functions like VM deployment and cluster reorganization. The package also includes a wide range of metrics for evaluating network latency, storage efficiency and resource utilization.


All the tools in the world, though, won't provide much help if your virtual strategy is incomplete. Rather than simply launching a virtualization program and hope for the best, it would be much better to institute an overall cost optimization plan that may or may not include varying levels of virtualization, according to Yisrael Dancziger, president and CEO of SaaS provider Digital Fuel. Under that mindset, you can more accurately determine where and how virtualization can be deployed for maximum cost/benefit.


The good thing about virtual infrastructure is that it is an abstract riding atop the physical layer. That means it can be easily retooled and reworked to suit changing requirements. If, upon further analysis, the original assumptions surrounding a virtual environment prove incorrect, the remedy will be much easier to swallow than if a physical deployment has to be undone.



In the end, it makes it easier to live up to the old adage, "If at first you don't succeed ..."



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