To get understanding of the advantages of virtualization, we must first understand some of the key reasons for prevailing IT inefficiency. Businesses spend as much as 65-70% of their IT budgets in ongoing operations and maintenance of systems / equipment and thus are left with a small fraction for new investments . Reduction of this expenditure can help firms to not only reduce their IT expenditure but also to take-up new initiatives. Three main challenges stand in between executing this change:
- Bad utilization and consolidation of systems, for example according to research, average utilizations of servers are between 10-15% and hugely underutilized most of the times
- Cost of management for all the different applications installed, high administration costs, time spent over handling contingencies
- Design of applications are inflexible – tough to scale up
This is where virtualization comes in picture. The key advantages of virtualization are:
- Virtualization decreases the need of servers, hardware devices and data centers thus decreasing the capex and maintenance cost but also reducing the power consumption bill.
- Server consolidation and benefits: Server consolidation not only reduces the requirement of physical servers but also operating costs such as electricity bills and supporting infrastructure build-up. While the electricity bill might seem to be a significant benefit, but it is as electricity is not only used to run the server but also to cool it down. According to an estimate, every 1 kW IT load translates into USD 12,000 of costs!
Increase in administrator productivity:
- Administrators have comparatively less number of emergencies to take care of as virtualization take care of many such situations (spike, hardware failure, etc.) itself.
- As business applications are centrally maintained, they can be maintained, updated and upgraded from a single location for all the users. Virtualization of OS also eliminates need of physical presence / attention to solve most of the IT issues.
Flexibility and agility:
- Routine and repetitive tasks (configuration, upgrades) can be undertaken by fewer servers
- Reducing time-to-market of applications, for example by reducing development and testing, enable quick deployment of resources to new locations / offices (for market expansion)
Bussing continuity and disaster recovery:
- Business continuity: System migration is made easier for desktops, servers and mobile devices.
- Maintenance down-time is reduced: Virtual image can be used to maintain continuity while physical server is maintained.
- Disaster recovery: Duplication of critical servers, data, etc. is easier and less expensive (no physical duplicates are required to be maintained for disaster recovery purposes). Same is the case with desktops; a user need not worry if desktop crashes in case applications are virtualized.
- Running virtual machines (VMs) from anywhere: As they are portable VMs can run from anywhere, especially in case of a disaster recovery situation.