Management While virtualization products can reduce the number of physical servers in an organizations care, virtual servers still require individual attention. The quality of the tools for creating, manipulating and monitoring virtualized instances will determine how heavily these guests weigh on IT staff. The best management tools do a good job of exposing the particular benefits of virtual servers, such as freezing guests into snapshots, moving guests among host servers and smoothly migrating physical systems into virtual ones.* What facilities does your product offer for deployment?* Can the guests boot via PXE (Preboot Execution Environment)? * Can the guest file systems be accessed/manipulated from the host? * Does your product offer a P2V (physical to virtual) facility? If so, describe the process of migrating a server instance from physical hardware to guest instance. Does your product support migration of running instances from one host to another? Describe how this works. * What facilities does the product offer for monitoring the state of the virtual instances it hosts? * Describe the facilities your product offers for scripted operation. * Does the product offer utilities for managing resource allocation among virtual instances? Describe these utilities. * How are updates, such as bug and security fixes, provided to the host software? What kind of downtime do these updates introduce? Does the product offer any facilities for managing updates on guest systems? * What facilities does your product offer for creating snapshots of virtual instances? * Describe the management interface options available for this product. Support In exchange for the slimmer hardware profile virtualization products can help companies achieve, these systems add layers of complexity and potential conflict. Its important to know that ones vendor offers resources for sorting out these kinks. * What does basic service include? * What does premium service include, and how much does it cost? * Are there approved systems integrators that can help companies customize deployment of the product for their own needs? * What level or kinds of skills will administrators need to deploy and maintain this product? What sort of system administration background will they require? * Do any community resources exist for the product or technology? Provide links to any such resources. Cost-Benefit Analysis * What are the cost advantages our organization will achieve by deploying your virtualization solution? * What does your product cost? Include base costs and costs for optional features, if your product is priced that way. * What are the maintenance fees? * What is the impact of adding CPUs? * Do multicore chips count toward higher per-CPU licensing? Determining costs for a virtualization solutionboth upfront costs and maintenance and support feesis an important part of any organizations evaluation process. Also vital is determining licensing costs for the operating systems and applications that will be run within guest instances, an exercise that will require input from the vendors of those software products. However, virtualization product suppliers should be able to offer advice on these issues and/or point organizations in the right direction. Next Page: eWEEK Labs virtualization resources.