Why Server Virtualization is not for Every Business
Server virtualization has a lot of potential benefits, but of course, there are a lot of things that potential users need to watch out for, as well. 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 license. You can mitigate those costs by using open source software, but you will need to make sure you have people on staff that can support those open source systems. If you choose proprietary software instead, you could run into some high license fees and other issues.
One of the biggest advantages of server virtualization is that it allows you reduce the number of physical servers you have at your facility. But in order to make the most of your server virtualization program you must plan your server room properly. You can certainly save money by using virtualized servers instead of physical ones, although you will need to keep in mind that to achieve the best results, you’ll also have to reduce the costs associated with maintenance and support. That means a lot of strategic planning, and a great deal of upfront cost, to achieve those long term cost savings.
If your IT staff is used to working with physical servers hosting a single application, they might not be prepared to support your newly virtualized environment without 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 environment effectively. It is important to factor these up front training costs into your budget before you start your server virtualization.
Server virtualization does reduce your management and support costs, but simply making your servers virtual does not mean you can kiss those costs goodbye. 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
A lot of legacy systems do not play well with new technologies, so you’ll have to make sure you have everything planned out in those cases and test your systems before actual deployment. Many legacy systems, for example, expect that each physical server will have its own IP address, and they might not work properly when multiple server instances with different IPs exist on the same physical box.
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, chances are 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.
While server virtualization certainly has its advantages, there are a lot of drawbacks to it, as well. It is definitely a good way to invest in the future, but if you don’t have the money and time to invest, it may be wise to choose another way of dealing with increased server loads.