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Server Virtualization Challenges

by Mouhamad Jamal-Eddine


Although server virtualization has a number of prodigious benefits, including lower costs and fewer hardware requirements, there are some issues IT and company management need to watch out for. No technology is perfect, and there are challenges associated with server virtualization as well as some great opportunities.


High Software Costs

One of the biggest costs associated with server virtualization is the cost of the software licenses. Server virtualization allows you to host a number of different servers on the same piece of hardware, but each of those server installations requires its own individual software (hypervisor) license.


You can mitigate those costs by using open source software (hypervisor), but you will need to make sure you have people who can support those open source systems. If you choose proprietary software instead, you could run into some high licensing fees.


Planning Costs

One of the biggest advantages of server virtualization is that it allows you reduce the number of physical servers you have at your company. But in order to make the most of your server virtualization program you must plan your requirements properly. You can save money going forward by using virtual servers instead of physical ones, but in order to achieve the greatest cost savings you might want to consider reducing the size, complexity and cost of your server room and its support systems. That means a proper strategic planning, and sometimes a great deal of up-front cost for large enterprises, to achieve those long term cost savings.


Training Costs

If your IT staff are used to working with physical servers hosting a single application, they might not be prepared to support your newly virtualized environment without having the right training. Server virtualization has its own unique challenges, and your IT staff will need training in order to meet those challenges and support the virtual environment effectively. It is important to factor these up front training costs into your budget before you start your server virtualization.

Management Concerns

Server virtualization does reduce your management, maintenance and support costs, but simply making your servers virtual does not mean you get rid of its costs. Many businesses mistakenly think that server virtualization means they will no longer need to manage their servers, but this is simply not the case.


Legacy Support Issues

Some legacy systems do not respond well to virtualization, and it is important for businesses to thoroughly test their systems before moving to a virtual server environment. Many legacy systems expect, for instance, that each piece of hardware must have a single IP address, MAC address, WWN, and those systems might not respond properly when a number of different servers, each with its own unique IP address, exists on the same box. However, many hypervisors companies are sorting out these issues now.


Hardware Investment

The number of virtual servers you can host on a single box will depend in large part on the quality of the hardware you are using. If your servers are more than a few years old, they might not have the power they need to host more than one server application. In order to make virtualization work, you will have to make at least a few new hardware purchases. Factoring those up front hardware costs into your budget is important, and it will make the server virtualization process go a lot more smoothly.

By Mohamed Jamal-Eddine


When you run a business, you have many important costs to contend with. Some of the most significant costs associated with your business are in the technology arena, and trimming those costs can trim your company budget and give you more money to invest back in your company and its operations.


For every server you buy to put in your company, you have a number of important fixed costs. Every server you install needs additional storage space, as well as people to maintain, optimize and troubleshoot it. You also need the space to keep that server, whether it is a dedicated server room or another secure location. You also need plenty of air conditioning service to keep those servers cool, since computer hardware generates a great deal of heat when it is running.


All those costs add up quickly, and that can reduce the competitiveness and efficiency of your operation. Worse yet, only a small amount of the resources available on each of those servers is actually in use by the processes it runs, meaning that as much as 90% of the money you spend on that expensive hardware could be wasted.


Fortunately, there is now a better way to deal with your hardware and your server needs. It is called server virtualization, and many companies are already using it to lower their costs and increase the efficiency of their systems. With a regular server, you can only run one application on each piece of hardware. But with server virtualization you can run three, four, five or more servers on the same physical box. It is easy to see how server virtualization can cut your hardware costs, and why so many smart companies are using it to reduce the number of resources they need to run their operations.


When it comes to the cost savings associated with server virtualization, the hardware costs themselves are only the tip of the iceberg. Although the cost of buying the physical server is important, server costs have fallen in recent years, and they are expected to continue falling for the foreseeable future. The real cost savings associated with virtualization has to do with the infrastructure and the talent you need to run each of those servers.


Having more servers means needing more personnel to troubleshoot and administer them. IT talent does not come cheap, whether you used outsourced third party services or in house staff. You have not just the cost of the salaries but the cost of benefits to deal with as well. Using virtual server technology can reduce the number of servers you need by up to 80%, and that in turn reduces the staff you need to maintain them.


Fewer servers also mean less space, allowing you to make the most of your existing server room and avoid costly and risky moves. You can also save money on air conditioning costs by implementing a virtual server solution, and that can in turn help your company save money while going green. Green technology is important, and there is nothing greener than one server doing the job that five used to do.


So if you are looking for a way to save money and help your bottom line, give server virtualization a look.  Many smart companies are already using this technology, and your company can benefit as well.