062609GreenServerServer Virtualization – Introduction

Technology spending and the energy consumption surrounding technology management is a critical issue for all businesses today, whether the goal is to reduce cost, save the environment or keep your   running.   In the United States alone, small and mid-sized businesses consume about $14 billion worth of electricity .   So what exactly is “virtualization” and how can it help your company reduce costs? 

Virtualization is simply a way of consolidating physicals servers into a single server container.  A server with a virtualization software installed such as VMware or Citrix and have multiple “virtual” servers living in that box.   You can install multiple verisons of Windows servers for example in a single physical machine.  This reduces purchase costs, management costs and makes it much easier to add a new server when needed by just a few clicks within the software.

Save Energy by Eliminating Server Sprawl and Underutilization
The cost of building a virtual environment is now affordable for smaller businesses.  Doing so can reduce their energy costs and consumption by up to 80% .  Most servers and desktops today are in use only 5-15% of the time they are powered on, yet most x86 hardware consumes 60-90% of the normal workload power even when idle. Virtualization has advanced resource and memory management features that enable consolidation ratios of 15:1 or more which increase hardware utilization to as much as 85%.  Once virtualized, built-in tools monitor utilization across the and intelligently reduce power consumption on physical servers without impacting applications and users.  With Virtualization customers can dramatically reduce energy consumption without sacrificing reliability or service levels.

Beside the company bottom line effect, virtualization is positively impacting the environment.  For example, Gartner estimates that 1.2 million workloads run in VMware virtual machines, which represents an aggregate power savings of about 8.5 billion kWh—more electricity than is consumed annually in all of New England for heating, ventilation and cooling.  While this is a good start, there are plenty of opportunities for saving even more energy and money.  Analyst firm IDC3 states that the un-utilized server capacity equates to approximately:

$140 billion
3 years supply of hardware
More than 20 million servers
At 4 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually per server, these un-utilized servers produce a total of more than 80 million tons of CO2 per year.  This is more than is emitted from the country of Thailand and more than half of ALL countries in South America.

 Reduce the Cost of Hardware and Management
By consolidating your server hardware with virtualization, there are a number of costs savings that can be realized besides just the cost of physical hardware and hardware warranties.  On the hardware side,  you can plan to increase utilization of existing hardware from 5-15% up to 80% and reduce hardware requirements by a 10:1 ratio or better. 

Management costs are also greatly reduced because in a virtual infrastructure from a single point of control.  This offers several significant management savings and can reduce costs of server managment by 50% – 75% of every server virtualized.   Whether you currently outsource it or have in-house staff, this can mean a significant monetary savings.  Here are just a few tasks that can be optimized:

  • Accelerate provisioning time by 50-70%
  • Manage virtual machines from a central location
  • Monitor the performance of virtual machines and their hosts
  • Avoid planned downtime with live migration of virtual machines
  • Eliminate many repetitive configuration and maintenance tasks

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