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The Business Case for Virtualization for SMBs



A new nationwide survey of IT managers, directors and CIOs in small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) revealed that 77 percent of organizations with 500 or fewer employees are using virtualization. Unfortunately, 40 percent of respondents had never even heard of virtualization.

So what exactly is virtualization?

Virtualization typically refers to server virtualization, which utilizes software to allow a single physical server to host a number of virtual servers. Each virtual server is capable of handling different operating systems, workloads and applications. In a traditional IT environment, there would be one server for each application or task, making the infrastructure inefficient, complex and expensive to update, manage and maintain.

Now, back to the survey…

95 percent of SMBs using some form of virtualization claim it immediately led to greater efficiency and cost savings. By consolidating server hardware, capital costs are reduced. From an operational standpoint, power, cooling and physical space requirements are reduced. Because virtualization enables SMBs to better utilize IT resources and simplify the process of adding new applications and services, ongoing management and maintenance are less expensive.

61 percent of respondents pointed to scalability as the most important advantage of virtualization. Server capacity can be added quickly and easily as organizations grow and business needs change. Whether virtual servers are onsite or in the cloud, virtualization enables organizations to upgrade and expand without the expense of hardware refresh cycles, while cloud-based virtualization reduces the need to purchase new equipment.

96 percent of SMBs using some form of virtualization believe it gives them a competitive advantage. Personnel, time and money can be reallocated from the management of a larger, more complex infrastructure to strategic business initiatives. Virtualization also provides the agility and flexibility to automatically shift workloads between servers to optimize performance and user productivity and minimize downtime.

Other major benefits of virtualization for SMBs include:

  • Centralized management of physical and virtual servers through one management console
  • Improved data backup, disaster preparedness and business continuity
  • Improved server availability and uptime

The benefits of virtualization have led many SMBs to extend virtualization beyond the server environment to other parts of their IT infrastructure. Research from SpiceWorks indicates that 80 percent of surveyed SMBs are using virtualizing IT services such as storage and printing, 56 percent are virtualizing business applications, and 49 percent are utilizing virtualization for content publishing.

In order to take full advantage of virtualization, SMBs need to strategically plan virtualization deployments. Organizations can reduce the risk of going over budget and reduce total cost of ownership by figuring out how to leverage existing investments, understanding technological and deployment costs, and making sure the solutions they choose are aligned with business processes and goals. Avoid the temptation to implement a virtualization solution if you don’t have in-house expertise, and be wary of to-good-to-be-true price points.

Let ICG assess your existing IT infrastructure and help you determine how your organization can use virtualization to reduce costs and gain an edge over your competition.