Virtualization is an increasing trend at businesses and IT firms. Based on many online comments, the move has many benefits. It leads, for instance, to lower costs – with lower energy bills and fewer servers to run. It additionally lowers the carbon footprint – and is more environmentally friendly. Disaster recovery is easier, as well. The move, too, gives more choices when selecting software and hardware. It means increased utilization of hardware and it will be easier to install software. And there tends to be improved efficiency with virtualization. If a move to the cloud is possible, it may be easier to move virtual environments to the cloud than physical hardware.
Many companies have made the move. For instance, at Akita Systems – an IT services company based in Kent, U.K. – there have been many moves from multiple servers to a virtualized solution. Here are some suggestions on how to handle the change process based on comments appearing on Business2Community.com.
First, look to see if the move needs to be done soon. There often will be signs of the old system starting to fail, according to a recent online posting by Christopher Boudet, chairman of Tonbridge Round Table and managing director at Akita.
He adds that planning for the move should take place over several months, and individual servers moved slowly. Next, develop a strategy and identify the system requirements. Remember, too, to communicate with employees and keep them informed.
Employees need to be able to adjust to any changes. There are different methods that organizations use to ensure changes in a workplace are largely accepted. It never hurts to get employees involved in the process and to make it enjoyable. Try to explain to employees why the change is needed. Often, changes should occur in quieter times of the year, on weekends, Boudet suggests. Make the changes efficiently. There may be some employees who are reluctant to change, and they need to be responded to by managers.
Then, decide whether to store data on-site or off-site, where data transfer limits apply. Virtual machines are managed as large files, and can be backed up relatively easily. After the system is virtualized, transfers can take place to another location.
Some specification issues could arise, the article adds. For instance, some low-cost operations may find servers are not up to spec. Frequent specification issues relate to hard drive and RAID controller speeds. Others relate to processor clock/RAM (News - Alert) speeds.
Servers which run virtual clients need fast hard-disk drives (HDD) and large RAID arrays, the article adds. Commercial IT firms often use standard-use disks with read/write speeds of 15k RPM – three times quicker than consumer HDDs.
In addition, some businesses may use older software that runs on 32 bit machines. This may lead to higher costs.
“If this is the case, that older software is requiring the continuation of a 32-bit OS, then it’s likely that there will still be performance issues,” Boudet said. “This is because 32-bit machines can only address 4GB of (server) RAM, so many concurrent users can grind the systems to a halt.” He recommends getting the 32-bit machine running on the new hardware, as well.
The move to virtualization may not be a perfect journey – but given its benefits, it is one most organizations will find to be worth taking.