Generally speaking, virtualization projects present an opportunity to save money across the broad technology landscape. One of the largest virtualization cost savings opportunities is operational efficiencies. For larger IT environments that allocate labor costs directly, this can be a substantial savings and provide one of the best benefits of virtualization.
How virtualization can reduce labor costs
Like many areas in technology, a well refined cost model can help to realize these virtualization cost savings. If labor hours are charged in an organization to a cost center or project number, virtualization can fundamentally reduce the hours associated with each task.
Labor entries may be less for a virtual machine (VM) than a physical system to provision a server, but the delivery time may be unchanged. The greater technology ecosystem may not be able to move at the pace of virtualization. This includes storage and network provisioning, firewall rules or cost approval processes.
It is important to remember that there may not necessarily be a substantial reduction in the amount of work but rather in the ability to do more work. In terms of cost allocation for labor associated with server provisioning, the labor cost would go down per server. Chances are that virtualization will increase the number of server operating systems, but the time required to provision one VM will be much less than its physical server counterpart.
Reducing the cost of server lifecycle maintenance
Considering the entire technology lifecycle, ongoing maintenance can be a direct virtualization cost savings as well. All infrastructure teams would love to have server lifecycles strictly enforced for three years and covered by manufacturer warranty. The reality is that many environments end up supporting servers beyond warranty coverage for a number of reasons.
Aftermarket support services for servers and storage devices are available and can be a lifesaver for older equipment. But these costs can be avoided by using virtualization. In this case, there are two important benefits of virtualization: Not only is the maintenance cost removed for the equipment but the dependency on hardware is also abstracted by virtualization.
With virtualization, the risk of supporting old servers beyond warranty coverage is reduced. The primary reasons are that the investment in newer equipment can be returned quickly, and migrating virtual environments is truly independent of the equipment involved. If you want to glean virtualization cost savings in your infrastructure, you might want to start thinking about virtualizing.
About the expert
Rick Vanover (firstname.lastname@example.org) has the vExpert, VCP, MCITP, MCTS and MCSA certifications. He is an IT Infrastructure Manager for Alliance Data in Columbus, Ohio and is an IT veteran that specializes in virtualization, server hardware, operating system support and technology management. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickVanover.