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Cisco Systems’ unveiling of its unified computing architecture for the data center will only pour more fuel on the virtualization wildfire. Its blade server framework is heavily reliant upon virtualization technology—such as that provided by VMware and Microsoft (Hyper-V).

Cisco’s unified computing architecture is designed for “highly virtualized” environments, which is typically large enterprises. But virtualization is a technology that is usable by virtually every size business. Even if you’re serving a small business, virtualization often makes sense from a TCO (total cost of ownership) and ROI (return on investment) perspective. Here’s five ways virtualization can help you and your customers save money.

1. Fewer Toys
It’s simple: Consolidating servers and storage via virtualization means you don’t have to buy as many servers and/or storage appliances. And fewer hardware pieces also mean fewer peripherals, cabling and networking expenditures, too. Desktop virtualization can also reduce the need for costly PC-fleet refreshes by allowing the use of inexpensive thin-clients instead of full-featured desktops or laptops.

2. Let’s Not Get Physical
The less physical infrastructure you have, the lower your physical plant and support costs. And that means that the costs of housing that data center are cut significantly. Virtualizing servers can help you contain data center sprawl, which can reduce your rent or mortgage costs, and could also help you avoid the cost of building entirely new data center facilities.

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3. Don’t Touch the Thermostat
Fewer servers and storage appliances generate far less heat, which automatically reduces the cost of cooling down your data center. Even knocking a few degrees off of the arctic blast cooling your data center can save you big bucks.

4. Go Off the Grid
With lower heating and cooling requirements comes a reduced reliance on the energy grid, and that translates to lower energy costs. You don’t need as much power to run fewer servers, storage appliances, switches and networking equipment, and you’ll also lower your bills for running air conditioning and heating systems and lighting.

5. Efficiency and Productivity
In the end, it’s all about efficiency. Because virtualization can free you from hardware constraints, you can implement new software and applications faster and reduce the amount of time your systems are down. This also reduces downtime for system maintenance, which increases employees’ productivity. Desktop virtualization, too, can provide these benefits, since employees can access their data from a centralized server to work any time, anywhere.