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What is the True Cost Of Virtualization?

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Article Written by Aaron Rallo, founder and CEO of TSO Logic

The terminology itself implies that everything related to virtualization - including its costs - is virtual, not real. And because they are easy to deploy, many have considered VMs to be a "free" alternative to physical machines. But in reality, virtual machines carry a broad array of capital and operating expenses, starting with the acquisition of physical servers needed to support them down to the cost of licenses and supporting storage infrastructure. To get a handle on the true costs, it's important for you to have a complete understanding of the hardware and software resources required to deliver applications.

Start with the basics.

Measuring VM host density can go a long way towards determining the cost of compute, in both on-premise and cloud environments. But until recently, the lack of good, solid data has made it difficult to know what density levels could be tolerated without impacting end users. Routinely, IT organizations deploy compute without ever looking at how it is used or even if it is actually being used at all. By leveraging intelligence from an analytical engine that ties compute back to applications and their owners, you can measure the cost per application alongside utilization levels to ensure you not only have cost visibility, but can also see where there's waste. From here, you can effectively optimize application delivery, while meeting service level agreements and decreasing costs.

Key measurements reveal the true costs.

As virtual environments grow, they become more difficult to measure and manage. Diving in to get relevant data means you have to dig through old sources, talk to developers who may no longer be around, and try to piece things together. To move away from these manual processes, an analytics and BI layer can be used to discover applications, compute, and utilization levels while also making recommended/automated actions. Once you have visibility, key cost metrics can be determined, including: What is the cost of a guest? How does that cost change based on hardware type? What are the costs per active vs. idle guests? Are there zombie VMs that we can remove or run in less expensive environments? These are all pieces of data to consider when transforming your data center or moving to the cloud.

Waste not, want not.

Virtual machines have some very visible costs. They take up space on hosts and in storage and drive up licensing fees. Then there are hidden costs, of which underutilization is a key culprit. In our day-to-day work, we typically find that about one out of every three virtual servers is comatose. So if one-third of your VMs is doing nothing at all, don't go out and buy more licenses, hosts, and compute. An easy way to cut costs is to cut out the waste and repurpose your do-nothing VMs or get rid of them altogether.

The key to success.

Over the past several years, efforts to virtualize have clearly reduced the amount of physical infrastructure required but has led to significant amounts of sprawl. The next generation of savings will be driven by insights into how virtual compute is being used and how it can be optimized. Going blindly into the cloud or needlessly deploying more VMs will drive up your costs. So be sure to measure and evaluate your virtual environment just as you do all other aspects of your business. It's not too late to get started, and your business will thank you for it.

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About the Author

Aaron Rallo is founder and chief executive officer of TSO Logic, a global company that enables IT transformation by delivering unprecedented visibility into data centers and the cloud. www.tsologic.com

Aaron Rallo 

Published Wednesday, February 10, 2016 6:56 AM by David Marshall
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