Businesses Gain Agility, Cut Costs with Server Virtualization: Report

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

The study found 25 percent of small businesses have virtualized at least some of their servers.

Small businesses are moving steadily toward more virtualized computing infrastructures, with server virtualization – running multiple, independent, virtual operating systems on a single server – increasing the productivity, agility and scalability of computing resources and the business itself, with an attending boost in a company’s return on its information technology (IT) investments, according to a survey from CDW.

The study found 25 percent of small businesses have virtualized at least some of their servers, attracted by efficiency, cost savings and flexibility to meet changing business demands, and that the average percentage of servers virtualized at those businesses grew steadily from 28 percent to 33 percent between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011. Even among small businesses that have not yet implemented server virtualization, 73 percent report they are investigating or planning to deploy the technology, with investments averaging 17 percent of their IT budgets over the next two years.

Via survey responses, small businesses that have virtualized say that the top drivers for their decision to do so were replacement of aging hardware (43 percent), server consolidation (36 percent), improved backup and disaster recovery (35 percent), greater efficiency of IT infrastructure (27 percent) and reduced IT operating costs (23 percent).  Aside from funding the investment, they also report that top execution challenges were issues of software/hardware compatibility (41 percent), the time required (37 percent), technical support requirements (31 percent) and training required (30 percent).

"Based on our day-to-day conversations with small businesses across the United States, we know that most look for IT to deliver business advantages that level the playing field with their larger competitors.  In our survey, two-thirds of small businesses that have virtualized their server environments say doing so has significantly increased the ROI of their IT – but virtualization also requires new skills and knowledge to manage effectively," said Jill Billhorn, CDW vice president of small business sales.  "The CDW Small Business Virtualization Roadmap is a resource to help small business IT managers start their journey to a more virtual environment."

The company’s Small Business Virtualization Roadmap is organized according to five steps in deployment of server virtualization: system assessment, staff assessment, management assessment, execution and measuring success. In addition to research findings and advice from CDW virtualization solutions experts, the roadmap includes advice and comments that were crowdsourced from small business IT professionals across the United States. 

The advice and tips address such commonly shared issues as how to know whether virtualization is right for a small business, where to obtain knowledge and skills to implement and manage a virtual IT environment and how to secure support for a virtualization initiative from a business’s ownership or management. On gaining management support, one member of Spiceworks, a social network for IT professionals, said, "We packaged our [proposal] with a virtual private network rollout and an updated disaster recovery plan.  This gave management things they wanted for our organization and gave us the up-to-date tools we needed to do our job."