Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure

Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure

Summary: If you need to justify the move to a virtual infrastructure, you have it: Money. And, now you can prove it by putting numbers to these five good reasons.


Everyone has his own reasons for wanting to move toward a virtual infrastructure. Are there reasons that are better than others for doing so? Yes, there are. There are a lot of very bad reasons to move to a virtual infrastructure. Some of those very bad reasons are quite compelling. But, there are five very good reasons to create a virtual infrastructure. And, yes, all of them relate to money.

The primary reason that businesses look toward virtualization is cost savings. Cost savings is an extremely important aspect of doing business. Lowering costs and raising profitability, while delivering a quality product or service is simply good business practice. If you look at all of the failed businesses over the past ten years, you'll note one glaring similarity: They weren't interested in cost savings. It's as if, the C-level executives wanted the businesses to fail by failing to curb their spending habits.

Virtualization is a money-saving technology. A basic premise of business is that you have to spend money to make money. And, as my wife tells me every time she goes shopping, sometimes you have to spend money to save money.

$. Server Number Reduction - When you decide to move to virtualization, one of the promises is that you'll reduce the number of physical systems that you have to deal with. And, it's true. Even if your VM per host density is 12 to 1, you've saved a lot of money by removing twelve physical servers from your inventory and placing them onto a single one. Sure, that single system is expensive, but is it twelve times more expensive than the total cost of the twelve single systems?

$$. Data Center Footprint Reduction - When you reduce the numbers of physical servers in your inventory, you also greatly reduce the amount of rack space you consume. That translates into a huge savings, especially if you're renting space from a data center provider. In your own data center, it means decreased power and cooling, which can save you a bundle as well.

$$$. Maintenance Window Reduction - Virtual machines need maintenance but if you multiply the amount of time required to reboot individual physical systems by the number of years you service a system, the number is significant. Granted that this number is mostly Windows-oriented because patching of Linux and UNIX systems typically don't require reboots. Regardless of the operating system involved, you'll save labor hours waiting for systems to return to a usable state. VMs generally reboot in five minutes or less, while their physical counterparts can take almost a half hour--depending on attached hardware and system services involved in startup.

$$$$. Personnel Reduction - As a techie, I'm not particularly fond of this one but the reality of business is that people are expensive. And, virtualization provides an excellent way to reduce personnel costs. You might have the same number of systems overall to support but since they're virtual, the physical system support drops to near zero. Someone still has to support the virtual host hardware. However, if you reduce the number of physical systems from 300 to 30, you've greatly reduced the number of hands needed to touch that physical hardware.

$$$$$. System Management - Think of physical systems and then think of virtual ones. Can you add an additional hard disk remotely to a system, while it's running and make that disk available to it? No? You can with a virtual machine. You can also add network interfaces to a VM without physically touching it. If I receive a request to add an additional 50GB to a VM, I can provide usable space to the system in less than five minutes. Same with network. Adding additional CPUs and memory requires a shutdown but I don't have to trudge into the data center, pop a case, insert the hardware and boot backup--a process that could take an hour or more from badge-in to badge-out at the data center. Instead, it takes me less than ten minutes to perform that same action on a VM. Time is money and that's a tremendous time savings.

How does virtualization save you money? Write back and let me know.

Topics: Hardware, CXO, Cloud, Emerging Tech, Servers, Storage, Virtualization


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • All true. Good story Ken.

    Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate
  • You missed the most important

    Despite the fact that I agree with the general threads of your argument ... you omit the most important concept which should be governing the transition to virtualisation and cloud computing. I try once again to engage you on the subject.

    If I cost up moving my home system to AMAZON (for instance) I find it hugely expensive. This is caused because the major suppliers and pundits are all carrying forward the assumption that we need to buy servers and infrastructure from the incumbent tier 1 vendors. Now is the time to DESTROY this assumption. NOW: not after M$, IBM, Apple et al have carved up the future.

    Just as enterprises wondered how to increase disk capacity beyond existing limits in a cost effective manner in the late '80's ... coming up with the solution of RAID ... so we need the same architectural changes as we move to cloud computing in the 10's. Google have shown how to do this and had the motivation to succeed since they were paying the bill! An architecture exploiting commodity devices.

    It is no good relying on the incumbent global corporations to offer appropriate solutions ... they continue to want consumers and businesses to pay the bills. I see a huge opportunity for clouds on various scales: servicing rows of terraced houses (MyStreetCloud); servicing (very) small businesses; servicing co-located federations. Many of these do not need 99.99% availability and cannot support the costs of tier 1 servers. New businesses are likely to fail within the first year!! When it comes to medium and large businesses then they need a share of a Google-like architecture.

    But no-one at ZDNET wants to discuss it. We have to put up with the usual 'you need not fear a public cloud for your business'; there are no posts in Tech Broiler on setting up small-scale clouds (despite the virtualisation expertise of JP for example); and AKH continues to tell us how to build a single PC - just as he has done for the last 20 years.

    ZDNET is for corporate sheep. BAA.
    • 3 Projects

      For non-sheep:

      1. AKH Virtualisation for a family of 4-6.

      2. JP Virtualisation for a street of 8 families.

      3. KH Virtualisation for a community of 256-512 people.

      Conferring allowed ;-)
      • RE: Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure

        @johnfenjackson #2 and #3 would be possible at the ISP or local provider level. I spoke of this to some extent in my "Blade Runner" article. It's going to require an infrastructure re-vamp of the ISPs and bringing fiber and high-speed DOCSIS 3.x+ cable into areas that don't currently have it now. And it will require businesses which service these communities to have the infrastructure in place (not just the servers, but the connectivity) to support hosting as well as self-provision and data migration portals.
    • RE: Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure


      I've responded to this before on another post. Amazon isn't financially appropriate for home users. Amazon, right now, isn't financially appropriate for VDI. VDI isn't financially appropriate for companies with fewer than 300 desktops.
      For a very small business, I'm not sure that there'd be any advantage of moving to a cloud-hosted VDI solution. What I would suggest is using your standard desktop OS (Linux, Windows, Mac) and using cloud-based storage, cloud-based utilities (Google docs, Gmail, Zoho, Office Live or 365, etc.). And, Intuit now has online Quickbooks. Using Dropbox, Carbonite or one of the other online storage solutions, there's no reason to save anything to your local system. You can reinstall any apps that you don't find online.
      You can do these things very inexpensively for a small business and I'll do some posts on this in the very near future.
  • I like your comment John

    Hi John,

    I like the conclusion of your comment.
    "ZDNET is for corporate sheep. BAA." lol.

    If you folks want to build a small scale cloud, you should look at

    You can buy a half adozen of desktop pcs and a network switch and a KVM for around 250.00 USD on e-bay and have your own Cloud.
    • RE: Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure


      Eucalyptus is a great choice for building a small scale cloud and it integrates quite well with Amazon's cloud.
  • RE: Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure

    Both johnjenjackson and wranilus seem so focused on their personal agendas that they overlook the point of Ken's message. He isn't talking about home users and SMB users. He IS talking about corporate scenarios with 300 servers, where the intent is NOT to migrate to "the cloud" but to consolidate and collapse into a more manageable and less expensive infrastructure in-house. If that makes ZDNet "for corporate sheep" so be it.
    • RE: Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure


  • RE: Five Good Reasons to Create a Virtual Infrastructure

    I think most of the comments and the article missed a primary reason for virtualizing. Disaster Recovery; while all the points raised in the article are true; most of our businesses would not survive without rapid recovery of our technical resources. Can any of us do a bare metal recovery as efficiently as we can with a virtual image? It doesn't matter what industry or segment of society we work in, all are critically dependant on technology.
  • #5 is questionable

    You cannot add hard disk space to a virtual system without rebooting the physical host unless you already have unused disk space in the host. Same for RAM. So if you have a host that is being used at peak density, (ie: very little unused resources,) you aren't going to have resources to add to a VM without powering down the box and installing more. If you did have the extra unused resources, you weren't using the host to it's full density, or if you were and had a small buffer of unused resources for a special occasion, you just tapped that and still need to add more to replace your buffer. The only advantage I can see here is that you didn't have to add that physical resources today. You will still have to power down the host to add them and reboot.<br><br>Argument #5 just doesn't work as near as I can tell.<br><br>I'm not trying to troll you. Tell me why I am wrong.