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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.”