Server virtualization is one of the major and unavoidable concept in technology world. There are plenty of benefits by server consolidation in a production environment which directly impacts the business.
Let me list out the server consolidation(virtualization) benefits from my experience and what I’m seeing at my working place. I have already published an article about how the server virtualization helped in our data center shifting. Also, there are plenty of advantages by server virtualization.
By the way What is Server Virtualization?
Do you know that your each physical servers are not performing up to the level that they can perform?. In fact, only 20% to 30% of it’s capacity is being used in normal environment. Because of these resources are being under-utilized, it is a definite waste of money for a company. Server virtualization is helping to maximize the output of each physical severs by utilizing them more. By virtualization, you can create set of partitions from physical server resources such as processor, memory and hard disk. Then assign these virtual resources to individual virtual servers which can work inside the physical server independently.
OK, here is the current setup at my work place. We have two sets of server virtualization hypervisor servers.
One Dell server with 6 virtual servers
Two Sun Blade servers (These two servers are running as fail over cluster nodes with Microsoft Hyper-V) with 12 virtual servers.
Totally 18 servers are virtualized in three physical servers. Can you imagine how would be our setup for these 18 servers if server virtualization is not available?. I’m not going to say that we would have bought another 18 physical servers to fulfill this requirement , but at least we would have bought around 12 servers and managed other 6 servers and applications in them.
So, by server consolidation we have skipped all costs and works involved in 12 physical servers purchasing and installing. Reducing 12 servers in a data center is a huge achievement for IT department and for an organization. Definitely we have saved good amount of money here.
Server Consolidation Benefits
Below are the simple and approximate calculation to see how much money really we have saved. The figures are not accurate, but it will give some basic idea. We normally buy Dell PowerEdge servers, so we could have bought extra 12 Dell PowerEdge series servers to our data center.
1) Cost Cutting, Saving Money
Less number of Servers
Without any doubt, we saved $4,000 x 12 = $48,000 money by not buying 12 physical servers. The average cost for a server is 4,000 US dollars according to this Dell page, based on our current server configuration.
Less Space and Racks
Since all 12 servers and monitor (with keyword and mouse to access them physically) will not go in a single rack, definitely we would have bought two Dell server racks to mount them.
Each rack is costing around $1,300 and total is $1,300 x 2 = $2,600 as per Dell PowerEdge 4220 Rack. So, we saved around $2,600 here.
Also, the space for these two racks is very useful in data center. It keeps our data center compact and easy to access servers. We could utilize these space for something else in data center.
Very Less Initial Cost in Setting up Servers
Initial power cabling/sockets, network cabling, switches and patch panel arrangements would cost us around $2,500.
So, the total saving in initial investment is $48,000+$2,600+$2,500= $53,100
Less Electricity Bills,Less Heat, Save Power and Go Green
This is really a great advantage of server consolidation. We are cutting download the electricity cost and heat production from 12 servers. Because of less heat, we are saving money in cooling system (less Air conditioners) and power backup (UPS) too.
Less Expenses on Server maintenance
We are saving money by avoiding warranty extension and Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMC) for these 12 servers. That’s a good amount of money for a company and really less headache for IT staff without worrying about maintenance of 12 physical servers.
2) Multiple Operating Systems on Single Hardware
It is very easy to implement multiple Operating System technologies on single hardware without buying additional hardware in a data center. Windows 2000, Windows 2008 R2 and Linux Red Hat Operating Systems can run on same single hardware now.
3) Management and Deployment become easy and quick
Management: Managing 12 virtual servers is very easy compared to managing 12 physical servers. Every server virtualization (hyper-visor) software comes with a management tool to manage virtual servers and it’s components easily.
For example, if you need to add one more Network Interface Card (NIC) to a server, that can be done by few clicks in virtual environment, whereas you need switch off the physical server, then fix the NIC and restart the server in normal environment.
Deployment: Deploying and creating new virtual servers are much easier and quicker than setting up a new physical server. You can just create a base server (with required configurations and updates) image and make clone (or duplicate) of it and deploy the new server within few minutes.
4) Easy Redundancy, Backup and Restore
Our Hyper-V server virtualization software is running on fail over cluster environment. That means, if one physical server fails, the all 12 virtual servers will be working without any down time from other physical server which is part of cluster node. If we like to have the similar redundancy setup with fail over cluster for 12 physical servers, then we would have end up of buying 12 more identical servers. That is almost double cost to have cluster setup for each servers. So, server virtualization helps us to cut down 24 server cost, but still we have redundancy for each server and application.
Backup and restore becomes easy by server consolidation. Virtual servers are running from shard hard disk which is located on NAS with RAID 5 and DR (Disaster Discovery) backup. So, all server hard disks are fully backed up all the time and having DR copy too. ‘Snapshot’ and ‘export’ are the great features in server virtualization to have simple and quick back and restore option in a data center.
Incase a virtual server fails or crashes for a reason, we can restore or build the same server very quickly and easily compared to physical server environment.
5) Separate Server for separate application
Because of you purchased a physical server, you can’t install your all important applications on that same server, which may cause issues among those applications. So, you need to go for separate physical servers for your important applications. But by server virtualization, easily you can have separate virtual servers for separate core applications, which will help to run every applications smoothly without disturbing others even though they are using same single physical server. Failure or bug on an application is not going to affect the other application.
Having separate virtual servers for every important application is not going to cost you anything extra except the Operating System license cost, but the benefit is priceless.
6) Easy Movable – Physically and Virtually
As I said earlier, server virtualization helped us lot while shifting our data center. Moving two physical servers meant moving 12 servers for us. If those 12 were physical servers, then the work involved in moving, fixing them in new place and setting up the power and network would have been more painful and costly compared to moving virtual servers.
Also, sometimes you may need to move your particular virtual server to a different location or branch office. That can be done easily by just exporting and importing the virtual server and it will be up and running at the branch office within minutes or hours.
Also, most of the server virtualization software support cross platform migration. For example, today you are running your virtual servers on VMware ESXi, but tomorrow with same hardware or new hardware you can run the same servers on different server virtualization software- Microsoft Hyper-V easily. This cross platform support really makes the IT people’s life easy.
7) Full Utilization and Great ROI (Return of Investment)
Because of all physical servers are being utilized properly for the price you paid, the ROI is great. You get your investment back quickly and efficiently by server consolidation.
Please feel free to share your experience with server consolidation benefits.