How to Implement Server Virtualization

Server virtualization plays just as important a role in controlling IT costs for the small and medium-size enterprise as it does for large enterprises. Server virtualization helps small and medium-size enterprises improve server utilization, reduce hardware and management costs, and improve overall disaster recovery and business continuity. Knowledge Center contributor Chris Barclay offers five important considerations that small and medium-size enterprises should keep in mind when looking to implement server virtualization.


So many small and medium-size enterprises share the belief that server virtualization is meant for larger organizations. While the scale of the SME environment may pale to that of a large organization (you may be looking at 10 or 20 servers versus hundreds or thousands of servers), the value of server virtualization is not diminished. Server virtualization can play just as important a role in stemming IT costs, both capital and operational, for the SME as it can for larger organizations.

Server virtualization, on any scale, can enable organizations to improve server utilization, reduce hardware and management costs, reduce IT footprint, lower power and cooling consumption, and improve overall DR (disaster recovery) and business continuity. It is, or should be, a driver of IT efficiency. Of course, the level of efficiency an organization (big or small) will see depends on a number of variables-most notably, the feature set, ease of use and scalability of the server virtualization technology itself, as well as other network and storage considerations.

Here is a guide for SMEs that are curious about server virtualization. We will look at what types of functions SMEs are typically looking for and some important things to consider when looking at server virtualization.

Answering Some FAQs

SMEs need advanced functionality, such as live migration of virtual machines, automatic failover and dynamic load balancing, as part of their server virtualization technology. They also need solutions that will scale to meet future IT requirements as their environments grow. In fact, more than half of all SMEs are deploying server virtualization to implement high availability and DR, not just consolidation. SMEs are also interested in business continuity and DR, which are very important motivators for adopting server virtualization.

The problem is, while SMEs and larger organizations may find similar value in server virtualization technologies, their day-to-day realities and resources (people and dollars) are vastly different-often 180 degrees different. This lack of IT staff and budget dollars has significant implications for the SME and, ultimately, can determine if server virtualization is adopted and which product is deployed.

There's no question that price, ease of use and packaging are hugely important to the SME, but they don't have to come at the expense of product functionality. Historically, SMEs were put in the unenviable position of having to trade feature/functionality for price or, if feature set was deemed more important than price, ease of use was often sacrificed.

With server virtualization, price, ease of use (such as packaging and deployment) and feature/functionality are no longer mutually exclusive. To get one, they don't have to sacrifice the other. The operative words here being "don't have to." There are still key differences between server virtualization technologies or platforms, and these differences still center around ease of use, price and feature set. As with any IT technology, organizations need to do their homework before investing. The following section is designed to help guide SMEs through that process by building a "scorecard" for each product.