Is there an immediate return on investment in virtualization?
Proper planning and implementation will ensure a faster return
Zvi Sherman, CTO, KDE Group
The last few years have proved that virtualization is a standard in various aspects of information systems and infrastructure implementations: disaster recovery, business continuity, support, quality assurance, desktops access (VDI) and server consolidation services. One outcome of using virtualization is “green computing,” which uses fewer resources and reduces the power and cooling needs of a data center.
As a solution architect, I find out that lots of IT managers hold a misleading idea that the implementation of a virtual system reduces the operation costs immediately. Equipped with this idea, they rush to their bosses and convince them to approve the project while emphasing the immediate ROI (Return on Investment) to the organization.
During the project or at the end of it, the IT manager realizes that the project did not save any money or immediately reduce costs. On the contrary, the organization has exceeded the approved budget and the managers cannot see the immediate ROI.
There are some reasons for this situation:
• In the presale phase, most of the capacity planning is done for the current hardware and software in the organization that meet the criteria of virtualization. In this situation the capacity planning is not calculated with all the systems involved and gets an incomplete result.
• In some projects, the need for shared storage is a must or the need for additional storage capacity is required. In some cases network topology must be changed (like Ethernet to FC) or an upgrade to the network infrastructure is required. All these situations cause the organization to invest more money in the virtualization project.
• In some cases, transferring systems to virtual systems requires a new license. This occurs when the client uses an OEM version of the Operating system or a hardware change that requires an additional license (like adding 2nd CPU).
• The transfer of systems to virtual environments does not change the logic of the IT system, which means that the software agents (like anti-virus software, backup agents and others) are still needed and the organization must pay for them. Some virtualized systems have backup tools that reduce the number of agents needed but these tools are limited and still require licenses.
• It is important to remember that a transfer to virtualization has some planned down-time. In the case of an eBusiness organization, they might lose money because of the service down-time. In other cases, the down-time might lead to bigger risks, such as in hospitals where down-time could potentially cost the life of a patient. This could tarnish a reputation and even lead to a lawsuit.
• The IT team needs to be familiar with the new virtual system. A lack of knowledge might lead to slow response time and poor service that does not meet the SLA.
Virtualizing an organization’s IT infrastructure will yield benefits, but poor planning might cause the organization to invest more money than they budgeted for the project. This might lead to a customer’s lack of satisfaction and possibly to the loss of their business.