Case studies show the benefits of virtualization

These case studies demonstrate how businesses have deployed virtual machines to improve efficiency and add computing power, while also saving money.

Over the past few years, virtualization has transformed the traditional data center. Countless businesses have reduced energy and hardware costs as more IT professionals realize the benefits of virtualization. For companies that demand more computing power, virtualization can help deliver improved performance without the need for an expanded facility or additional cooling infrastructure. Improved efficiency and reduced power use can easily be realized when multiple virtual machines (VMs) run on one server. Fewer physical servers and a smaller facility translate to lower overhead costs--put simply, virtualization allows businesses to do more with less.

However, as attractive as the theoretical benefits of virtualization may be, some businesses are still skeptical as to whether virtualization is a good fit for them, and some are just unsure of how to go about virtualizing their data center. In these cases studies, we examine how four businesses, in four different industries, deployed virtualization in their data center to reduce costs and improve performance.

Case study 1: Financial services company running out of space
As computing needs continued to grow, an online financial services company faced a problem all too common in today’s data centers. The company was running out of space to house physical servers, and its existing cooling infrastructure couldn't keep up. New workloads meant the addition of physical systems, and valuable time was spent configuring those systems and balancing power distribution. Finally, the company turned to server virtualization technology to help solve its space problems and improve efficiency. Today, the company is 75% virtualized and runs 200 VMs on just 10 physical servers, leading to an estimated 33% savings in power use.

Case study 2: Architectural firm uses storage area network technology in its virtualization rollout
Storage area networks (SANs) have become commonplace in the modern data center and are especially valuable for virtual systems. However, it is critical to plan and budget for all the technology needed to properly deploy and manage a SAN. Planning ahead is also essential for identifying the potential costs that could surface beyond the initial SAN deployment and is key to realizing the benefits of virtualization. This case study shows what happened when an IT solution provider supported a data center virtualization project for an architectural firm that did not budget for licensing costs and SAN management tools.

Case study 3: Healthcare provider sees benefits of virtualization
Virtualization isn't just for large data centers supporting enterprise businesses. Even smaller organizations can use virtualization technologies to improve performance, as evidenced by this case study of a New York healthcare provider. The company's director of IT was frustrated by frequent downtime caused by aging servers and had to maneuver his way through long-expired warranties and self-maintenance, and eventually turned to server virtualization software. This case study illustrates why a well-built virtual infrastructure is often more reliable than its physical equivalent. It also demonstrates the other benefits of virtualization that can be realized, including high availability and increased reliability.

Case study 4: School district adopts virtual Exchange 2010 server
Even small school districts with tight municipal budgets can make the switch to virtualization. The proof is evident in this case study, in which a school district turned to virtualization to extend its hardware refresh cycle and improve availability. Virtualization allowed the district to avoid purchasing new servers.Impressed by the success of the virtual Exchange 2010 project, the district is now looking to virtualize its three domain controllers and other demanding applications.

This was first published in July 2011

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