Want to save your business money? It's time to go virtual

Steve Sutcliffe
By Steve Sutcliffe
You will no doubt have heard people talking about 'virtualising' their IT and the benefits it can have.
Want to save your business money? It's time to go virtual

There's no doubt that using virtual servers can help lower business running costs, and - if they haven't already - your IT department should start seriously looking into the benefits.

Let's take a common scenario faced by nearly all IT departments. Your comms room is full, you have lots of servers and it all looks very busy and efficient. The key word in this statement is 'efficient'.

Your server room may have racks full of servers and structured cabling to the untrained eye it all looks organised and seems to be running like a precision watch. However, does your business really need 20+ servers, all running one application each? Think of the efficiency improvements if you could increase the utilisation of just one server from 15% to 80%...

Virtual servers can help you achieve this, along with a host of other benefits. Here are just some of the advantages that a virtualised environment can offer:

Cost savings - running fewer servers results in lower electricity bills. Here's an example of how much you could save if you were to virtualise unutilised servers:

The HPE ProLiant DL320e Gen8 is a common server used by SMEs and runs at 300w. Based on the current average UK electricity price of 10p per kWh, running this server 24/7, 730 hours a month, would cost £21.90. In a year, this would cost you an average of £262.80.

Virtualising four of these servers onto a single virtual server would create a total saving of over £1,000, without taking into account the savings you would make from lower hardware and warranty support costs.

Energy efficiency - deploying fewer servers will result in lower electricity and air con consumption which will result in a decreased carbon footprint for your business. This is not only saves you money on electricity bills but your lower energy consumption is also kinder to the environment.

Reducing carbon footprint is an area governments are pushing hard to businesses to help reduce C02 emissions and some are also providing financial assistance to help achieve this.

Faster redeployment options - virtual machines can be redeployed within a matter of minutes, as virtual machine snapshots can be taken and installed quickly onto another server running software such as Hyper-V or VMware.

This results in spending less time configuring a new physical server, all you would need to do is create a new virtual machine and re-deploy the snapshot, which will then load the virtual server.

Efficient backups - virtual servers enable you to complete full backups, as well as taking snapshots of the virtual machine giving you faster redeployment options mentioned above. Another advantage of virtual server backups is that snapshots can be taken throughout the day, resulting in more accurate data sets.

Create a secure testing environment - it is far easier to test in a virtual server environment than on a physical server. You can create a new virtual machine in a matter of minutes and carry out your testing without affecting live users. Because you're not setting up a physical server from scratch, you will also save time and resource.

The cost and efficiency benefits of virtualising servers makes it a very attractive option for IT departments. Before deciding to virtualise your existing IT setup, it’s best to speak to a specialist IT company. A good managed IT service provider will advise you on the best way to set up a virtualised environment for your business.

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