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Integrating Platform—Virtualization in the Enterprise: Cost and Efficiency

In Brief: Businesses today are under increasing pressure to reduce operational costs while still ensuring that flexibility, service delivery levels, and business efficiency continue to improve. As part of an effort to rein in operations cost increases, Golden & Scheffy (2007) suggest that a platform-virtualization model offers the opportunity to reduce overall system administration costs in comparison to non-virtual environments. The Strategic Counsel (2007) also finds that "the benefits of server virtualization are clear and extremely well aligned with organizational expectations and actual server virtualization use cases. Primary benefit areas include improved server/system utilization rates; improved server reliability and uptime; and improved business continuity and disaster recovery." (p. 21)

The need to run legacy applications is served well by virtual machines.

Virtualization technologies allow IT organizations to consolidate multiple workloads onto a single server, resulting in more efficient use of each server, and fewer of them to install, support, and manage (Sun, 2008). Mann (2007) states, "Virtualization has many significant advantages, both for IT and for the business as a whole. These success factors are contributing to specific competitive advantage, cost reduction, and productivity benefits for many organizations." (p. 1)

The purpose of this literature review is to examine the potential advantages and disadvantages of migrating from a non-virtual environment to a hardware-virtualization model in support of information system administration in the enterprise, with emphasis on two IT business functions provided by The Strategic Counsel (2007): reducing IT costs and increasing IT efficiency. This document is intended for IT professionals, specifically system administrators; the intent is to provide these IT professionals with enough knowledge to support the business justification to move to a hardware-virtualization environment or to maintain the platform-specific model.

Platform virtualization has proven to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) in the organization. Van Doorn (2006) demonstrates three examples of this reduction: (a) increases in system utilization (current servers have less than 10% utilization); (b) reductions in hardware (25% of the TCO); and (c) conservation of space, electricity, and cooling (50% of the operating costs of a data center).

One of the key reasons to employ virtualization is to isolate applications from each other. Figure 1 lists the common security benefits of virtualization.

Security Benefits of Virtualization
  • Virtualization makes available a centralized and secured computing environment.
  • Virtualization provides a clean "golden image" that can be restored over the top of a malware-infected system to instantly restore a clean, secure environment.
  • Virtualization provides the ability to share systems without sharing sensitive data.
  • Virtualization offers fast and secure restore of environments for shared systems, such as compromised servers, user systems, or shared terminals.
  • Virtualization provides secure, isolated testing and debugging for potentially harmful applications, malware, new applications, and new security scenarios.

Figure 1—Security benefits of virtualization

Implementing virtualization in a company can reduce IT cost through one or several of the following avenues: server consolidation, test and development agility, licensing consolidation, standardization, and/or power and physical space consolidation. It can also increase IT efficiency through centralized administration and/or security, support of legacy systems, reduction of server downtime, and/or providing staff training on a new technology. The system administrator or other IT professional should take the time to review the organization's overall strategic direction, and then apply virtualization based on those requirements.

References

  • Golden, B., & Scheffy, C. (2007). Virtualization for Dummies. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley.
  • Mann, A. (2007). The Pros and Cons of Virtualization. Business Trends Quarterly, Q1 2007.
  • The Strategic Counsel (2007, June). Global Server Virtualization Survey—Summary Report. Retrieved from CA Technologies.
  • Sun Microsystems, Inc. (2008, October). The Business Benefits of Virtualization and Consolidation with Sun and VMware.
  • Van Doorn, Leendert. (2006, June 14). Hardware Virtualization Trends. Keynote presentation at the Second International Conference on Virtual Execution Environment, Ottawa, Canada.
AIM alumnus Erik Rasmussen

Research Paper Author: Erik R. Rasmussen—2009 AIM Graduate, Network Administrator, Harland Financial Solutions

Abstract: Selected literature, published between 1999 and 2009, is examined in relation to reducing IT cost and increasing IT efficiency through implementation of platform-virtualization within the enterprise. Virtualization can reduce IT cost through server consolidation, test and development agility, licensing consolidation, standardization, and/or power and physical space consolidation. It can also increase IT efficiency through centralized administration and/or security, support of legacy systems, reduction of server downtime, and/or providing staff training on a new technology.

Download the entire Capstone research project

AIM alumnus Jon Dolan
Jon Dolan (’13)
Jon Dolan (’13) received the 2013 Capstone Award from Dr. Linda Ettinger for his research paper Enterprise-Wide Techniques to Manage E-mail Overload at the AIM graduation luncheon.