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Virtualization & Application Deployment
Virtualization & Application Deployment

The Shortcut Guide to Implementing Virtualization in the Small Environment

by Greg Shields

SYNOPSIS

Virtualization is a big and obvious play in enterprise environments. Its promise of shrinking the data center footprint, reducing costs, and enhancing the workflow of IT and the business make it a perfect fit for environments of size. But small businesses needn’t necessarily be left out in the cold. These smaller environments where no- or low-cost tools are standard and administrators must take broad responsibility rather than specialization stand to gain as well. Yet with so much information in the market today—much of which is focused on the needs of the large environment—small businesses and environments have a hard time justifying a move to virtualization.

The Shortcut Guide to Implementing Virtualization in the Small Environment will illuminate the cost savings and the workflow improvements that small businesses and environments will see upon the move to virtualization. By asking and answering a series of four important questions, this guide will pull the reader through the four most critical hurdles that small businesses today must understand to be successful with their virtualization implementations.


CHAPTER PREVIEWS

Chapter 1: What Is the Technology Behind Virtualization?

Virtualization. Even if you’re not technology savvy, you’ve likely heard of its concepts and perhaps even a few of its products. Virtualization’s technology is a big and obvious play in enterprise environments. Its promise of shrinking your data center footprint, reducing power and cooling costs, and enhancing the workflow of your business make it a perfect fit for environments of size.

But small businesses and small environments needn’t necessarily be left out in the cold. These oft‐overlooked places—where no‐ or low‐cost technologies are a necessity and administrators must take broad responsibility rather than specialize—stand to gain as well. Yet with so much information in the market today, much of which is focused on the needs of large environments, small businesses and their computing needs have a hard time understanding virtualization’s technology, let alone justifying a move to it.

Thus the reason for this guide. This goal of this guide is to illuminate the technologies, the cost savings, and the workflow improvements that small businesses and environments will see with virtualization. By asking and answering a series of four important questions, this guide will pull you through the four most critical hurdles that you must understand to be successful in your virtualization implementation.


Chapter 2: What Business Benefits Will I Recognize from Implementing Virtualization?

Small businesses and environments are indeed small due in many ways to their limited budgets. As such, the small business must leverage no-cost and low-cost tools wherever possible if they are to survive. They must be extremely careful about where they spend their money, making sure that every investment provides a direct and recognizable benefit back to the bottom line.

This focus is much different than what is typically seen in large enterprises. With large organizations, benefits are more easily classified in terms of operational efficiencies, with reductions in time and increases in agility directly equating to reductions in cost. Enabling improvements to manageability are a key concern when you have 1000 servers in your data center because their management involves a lot of time and cost. The small business, however, must look to whole dollar or “hard” cost savings when considering any cost outlay.

To that end, answering the question posed by this chapter requires a primary focus on hard dollar savings to be of benefit to the small environment. You’ll see just that focus in this chapter. Yet at the same time, this chapter will also discuss some of those other “soft” benefits that make sense. You might be surprised that even in the small environment, the addition of a “soft” benefit can in the end result in a recognizable “hard” return.


Chapter 3: What Do I Need to Get Started with Virtualization?

The goal of your business is to support your customers and ultimately make a profit. As such, implementing technology for technology’s sake is always a losing bet, especially when your business isn’t necessarily a technology company. For a technology such as virtualization to make sense for your small business or environment, it must be capable of arriving with a minimal or zero cost outlay. It must run atop your existing infrastructure, and it must provide a direct benefit to your goals of supporting your customers and making a profit. If it doesn’t accomplish these three things, it doesn’t make sense for your business.

The goal of Chapter 3 is to provide you with the technical information you need to ultimately make this decision. Whereas the first two chapters in this guide focused specifically on the cost and operational benefits associated with virtualization, this chapter will focus on a technical discussion of its hardware and software requirements.


Chapter 4: What Are the Best Practices in Implementing Small Environment Virtualization?

In three short chapters, this guide has discussed many of the questions you and your business should be asking about virtualization. You’ve learned about the technologies behind virtualization, with a focus on the underpinnings that make virtualization a play for small businesses. You’ve also come to know the financial benefits that virtualization brings to your environment.

In the previous chapter, you got a comprehensive look at the components you’ll need to get started in virtualization. Chapter 3 took a technology‐based focus on the pieces of technology you need in order to start your virtualization project. There, you learned about the types of storage available, the impact of networks and network cards, and the critical role of available memory in your physical hosts. This chapter will augment that information with the added knowledge and best practices you need to properly implement that virtual environment.