I speak with a number of people every year who have never heard of virtualization, and quite frankly this is a point that saddens me as a technology enthusiast. How can everyone in the world not know about the glorious wonders that await them if they virtualized their infrastructure?! Haha, ok maybe that’s going a bit too far, but I think you get my point.
To date, I’d have to say that of the business decision makers I meet, only about 30 percent of them know what virtualization is. Now on the flip side, of the people who are actively down in the trenches managing systems on a day to day basis, nearly 75% of them have either used some method of virtualization or heard of it. My question is, why is there such a disparity in knowledge of something that can be so beneficial to an organization between these two groups of people?
Well that’s what this post is about, educating decision makers about the numerous business benefits that virtualization solutions provide.
Virtualization History Lesson
Virtualization as noun, refers to technologies designed to provide a layer of abstraction between computer hardware systems and the software running on them. By providing a logical view of computing resources, rather than a physical view, virtualization solutions make it possible to do a couple of very useful things: They can allow you, essentially, to trick your operating systems into thinking that a group of servers is a single pool of computing resources. And they can allow you to run multiple operating system installations simultaneously on a single machine, thereby greatly increasing the utilization of any one piece of hardware.
Virtualization has it’s origins in partitioning, which divides a single physical server into multiple logical servers. Once the physical server is divided, each logical server can run an operating system and applications independently. In the 90s, virtualization was used primarily to re-create end-user environments on a single piece of mainframe hardware. If you were an IT administrator and you wanted to roll out new software, but you wanted see how it would work on a Windows NT or a Linux machine, you used virtualization technologies to create the various user environments.
But with the advent of the x86 architecture and inexpensive PCs, virtualization faded and seemed to be little more than a fad of the mainframe era. It’s fair to credit the recent rebirth of virtualization on the x86 architecture to the founders of the current market leader, VMware. However VMware couldn’t have done it alone, and I often credit Moore’s Law in helping computing power reach a point where virtualization was once again a viable solution in the enterprise.
That’s great, but how exactly can virtualization help me and my business?
Let’s take a look at a few different benefits that a business will realize by pursuing virtualization solutions for their next project.
Reduce datacenter costs by reducing your physical infrastructure footprint: This is probably the point most CIO’s and decision makers are aware of, fewer servers and related IT hardware means reduced real estate and reduced power and cooling requirements. Getting ready to perform an upgrade? Current hardware infrastructure coming up for refresh? These are ideal times to deploy a virtualized infrastructure with VMware and SAP.
Get more out of your existing resources: With VMware, you can begin to take advantage of advancements in computing technology by ensuring we’re using what you paid for! On average, we see single application servers utilization hover around 15% – 20% of it’s potential capacity. You purchased the hardware, you should be taking full advantage of it! With virtualization, your IT department pools common infrastructure resources and can finally break away from the age-old “one application to one server” model with server consolidation.
Increase availability of hardware and applications for improved business continuity: For those who have ever gone through the trouble of creating a 100+ page run-sheet of requirements for a disaster recovery solution, this is for you. In addition to simplifying the execution of a disaster recovery event, by utilizing VMware as your virtualization solution, you now have the ability to do audits on your disaster recovery plan in production without the concern of service downtime!
Gain operational flexibility: Going beyond the cost savings justification, with SAP running on VMware, you now have the ability to dynamically scale your application’s performance needs in real time to meet increased demand. Have an upcoming “fire-sale” on that new wiz-bang thing everyone’s talking about? Now you can respond to market changes with dynamic resource management, faster server provisioning and improved desktop and application deployment.
Help your IT staff help you: VMware’s virtualization monitoring and management tools allow your IT staff to realize increased productivity when managing your virtual infrastructure by utilizing VMware’s robust set of utilities. IT administrators can provision new resources in minutes instead of hours, freeing them to focus on more important tasks related to your SAP infrastructure. Snapshots, Disaster Recovery, general system maintenance, are all handled through common management utilities that any resource can learn with ease.
I want it all! Where do I get started?
The first step of any virtualization project begins with a readiness assessment. An experienced consulting company will examine the current state of your infrastructure, determine where your business is growing, and accurately provide you with a design which focuses not only on cost savings, but also positions your company to be more flexible for future planned activities such as upgrades, increased demand, etc. By taking advantage of server virtualization you can easily improve the efficiency of your SAP infrastructure as well as seeing immediate cost benefits by lowering your cost of ownership, and increasing the productivity of your IT staff. All while positioning yourself to be more elastic in order to meet the ever changing landscape of business, there has never been a better time to explore the benefits of virtualization.
Stay tuned because in a later post, I’ll be examining the Technical Benefits of SAP virtualization, and why if you’re not exploring virtualization you’re already “behind the curve”.