Virtualization 101: Tips and Interview From Two Experts (Part Two)

If you’ve been reading even for a short length of time, you’ve probably come across at least one article on virtualization. Instead of having 10 servers (or more) you can use less servers and use smart software to segment the power of the servers into virtual machines.
Chris Barclay, Director of Product Management at Virtual Iron and Jerry Melnick is Chief Technology Officer at Marathon Technologies Corporation help us understand more about virtualization.
Chris Barclay – Part One
Jerry Melnick – Part Two
In this post, part two of our segment on virtualization Jerry provides us with Top Tips for SMBs Getting Started with Server Virtualization
Tip #1 – Make the business case for server virtualization
Before implementing server virtualization, SMBs should assess whether the technology will provide a reasonable return on investment. They should first take a look at how they are using servers today and ask themselves:

  • Do they have common applications running on a number of different servers?
  • Do they have enough servers that could and should be consolidated? Is the number of applications increasing and the capacity required for the applications continuing to expand?
  • Do they expect the number of servers they have to buy each year to increase? If so, by how much?
  • Is the business planning to undertake other large-scale technology implementations, and if so, how will this fit with a possible virtualization development?

To help conduct a quick assessment, ROI calculators are available from VMware and Marathon. Marathon also has a webinar available with John Humphreys, Program Vice President, Virtualization Software for IDC, “Making the Business Case for Server Virtualization,” in which John provides essential guidance in making your business case.

Tip #2 – Consider the license and support implications
SMBs need to investigate what, if any, impact virtualization will have on their application licenses and support. Depending on the application, the original licensing terms and conditions may no longer apply after the applications have been migrated to the virtualized environment. In addition, it may be that the providers of some of the software applications do not support virtualization systems, and are unwilling to offer technical support for the applications after the migration to a virtualized environment.
Tip #3 – Afford to spend the time to plan
As any small business owner knows, implementing a new system requires dedicated resources, budget and time. Industry experts have estimated that the planning stage constitutes 90% of a virtualization implementation project. The actual migration is relatively simple to undertake provided that the implementation has been well-planned. Any system information to be migrated should be collated and backed-up up to six months before the start of the migration. SMBs should remember to assess how much hardware each virtual machine needs in order to operate efficiently. They also need to ensure that the number of virtual environments residing in a single hardware does not sprawl out of control – this could have serious consequences on the stability of the environment and application availability. A thorough implementation plan will help businesses minimize any hiccups that might arise.
Tip #4 – Assess levels of application availability and risk to business continuity
Despite the many benefits of virtualization, small businesses are beginning to realize that there are risks associated with the technology. While virtualization is useful for protecting applications from planned downtime, protecting virtual environments from unplanned downtime is a different matter. Today, the cost of just a few minutes of unplanned downtime can be hugely detrimental and with virtual environments the risk is greater because server consolidation often results in a single point of failure for multiple applications. Businesses should therefore consider a solution that combines virtualization technology with the high availability protection necessary to keep the business going through disruptions.
Tip #5