How SMBs Should Be Getting Started with Virtualization

Paul Mah

Small and medium-sized businesses planning to finally make the plunge into virtualization in 2010 will be interested to know the tips that VMware has on this front. VMware, the leading provider of virtualization solutions, released its VMware SMB Survey recently. I wrote about the key findings that are pertinent to SMBs in a blog earlier this week.

 

While the advice is VMware-centric in some regards, it makes sense and is easily applicable regardless of the target platform that is ultimately selected. The four points below are the suggestions from VMware, followed by my opinion.

 

  1. Talk to a trusted advisor about the benefits of virtualization and learn the best implementation practices.
  2. Conduct an ROI analysis using a free online tool such as the VMware ROI calculator.
  3. Use free tools to get started, such as VMware ESXi, VMware Converter and VMware Go.
  4. Start slowly by virtualizing smaller applications workloads before jumping ahead with critical business applications and database servers.

 

Unlike earlier days, when the expertise to do x86 virtualization was still sorely lacking, virtualization has hit the mainstream. There is a wealth of knowledge available on every possible implementation scenario and problems. As such, it makes sense to get up to speed by talking to someone with actual experience in implementing virtualization.

 

Obviously, a proper ROI or TCO analysis is much more than simply punching a few numbers into a simplistic online calculator. Used correctly though, the TCO calculator from VMware can serve as a tool to work out some preliminary numbers with which to brief management.

 


Finally, I can't agree more about the final tip, which suggests a progressive implementation strategy by virtualizing small application workloads first. Simply put, it would be foolhardy to jump straight in to immediately virtualize the mission-critical systems. This is made worse if the IT team is not already familiar with virtualization.

 

By building upon point 3 and point 4, I advise SMBs to selectively virtualize peripheral workloads using existing hardware if possible. Because the requisite platforms and software tools can be obtained for free, IT departments can gain valuable experience virtualizing non-critical systems. In addition, the lessons learned can be used to build a compelling business case with which to convince management.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 8, 2010 8:33 AM Chris Chesley Chris Chesley  says:

This is a great article!  The one point I would add is that there are many free virtual management tools out there that can help users manage their virtual environment.  Here is an article discussing a few of them: http://www.networkworld.com/newsletters/nsm/2009/033009nsm1.html

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