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Avoiding the Pitfalls Server Virtualization in SMB Environments


In Part 1 of our post on virtualization at small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs), we discussed how virtualization is helping SMBs do more with less while streamlining operations and enhancing productivity. We also looked at how SMBs are seeing a real impact on their bottom lines rather quickly. Not surprisingly, this is leading more and more SMBs to explore server virtualization in their IT environments.


According to research from Techaisle, 60 percent of servers in SMB organizations have been virtualized, and those organizations expect 70 percent of their servers to be virtualized this year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that SMBs continue to struggle with virtualization adoption due to the complexity involved.


What are the most common pitfalls that prevent virtualization deployment success? Techaisle identified these as the top five:


  • Cost of licenses for the virtualization solution
  • Failure to achieve projected cost savings
  • Challenges associated with managing virtual servers
  • Cost of software licenses for applications in the virtual environment
  • Budget overruns for the project as a whole


Just as the benefits of virtualization are magnified for SMBs, so are the long-term costs and impact of a poorly conceived and managed virtualization deployment. As with any corporate initiative, SMBs should focus on the following factors when embarking on server virtualization:


Be sure of your budget. Most of the reasons for virtualization deployment failure have to do with cost overruns. SMBs need to have a clear picture of the capital and operational costs involved and enter the project with a concrete budget.


Do your homework. What do you expect to achieve from your virtualization deployment? You can’t implement an effective solution until you’ve clearly defined areas for improvement and what a virtualization solution should allow you to accomplish.


Is the virtualization platform you’ve chosen scalable and aligned with your business processes? Does it follow an industry-standard approach that will simplify management, maintenance, licensing and support? How will it be managed and monitored? How can you leverage your existing infrastructure? Have you checked to make sure that you won’t run into compatibility issues with legacy applications? What type of training is involved for administrators? How can you ensure optimal performance and security?


These are just a handful of the questions that need firm answers before you begin your virtualization deployment. Doing this homework in advance will save you money and make for a much smoother deployment.


Make sure you understand virtualization. You don’t need to understand all technical aspects of virtualization backward and forward. However, your technology solution provider should be able to answer all of your questions and make sure you have the foundational knowledge necessary to evaluate your options and make sound decisions.


You certainly don’t want to miss out on the benefits of virtualization because you feel overwhelmed, but you also shouldn’t rush into any decisions that could cost you money because you don’t understand what you’re buying.


Don’t focus solely on cost. You will inevitably encounter a solution provider that tries to win your business based on price. Cheap hardware and software tends to be difficult to manage and scale, making it more expensive in the long run. Make sure your hardware and software investments will deliver the performance and capacity you need now and five years into the future.


ICG can help you decide if virtualization is right for your business. If virtualization does make good business sense, we can design and deploy a solution that helps your organization become more efficient and productive while reducing operational costs.