The Benefits and Risks of Server Consolidation and Virtualization

The Benefits and Risks of Server Consolidation and Virtualization

For years, businesses have discussed moving workloads and applications to the cloud, and many surveys have seemingly supported this trend. However, a recent study from the Uptime Institute found that only about one-third of workloads are in the cloud – about the same as in 2014. In other words, 65 percent of workloads remain in the corporate data center.

Although one-third of surveyed IT managers said they plan to migrate more workloads to the cloud in the near future to meet growing data center demands, the bigger priority is server consolidation. In fact, 55 percent said they are currently working on server consolidation, making it the top IT capacity planning initiative.

Many organizations waste space and resources by using servers that aren’t running at a high enough capacity to justify the investment. Server consolidation is the practice of reducing the number of servers or server locations in order to use compute resources more efficiently and reduce costs. This involves moving multiple, heterogeneous workloads to a single server or combining workloads under a single operating system.

Although there is overlap between server consolidation and virtualization, virtualization is seen as an enabler of server consolidation. Virtualization separates a workload and its data from the physical host platform, creating more flexibility in matching workloads with physical resources. At the same time, virtualization doesn’t require the separation of a workload from its operating system, which makes it possible to consolidate physical servers. In most cases, a combination of server consolidation and virtualization is ideal.

Server consolidation delivers higher effective utilization rates for compute resources because multiple workloads and virtual machines (VMs) are simultaneously hosted on a single server. Many smaller businesses could run all of their applications and workloads on one high-powered server. Having fewer servers reduces the data center footprint, which in turn reduces power and cooling costs. It also simplifies the data center and relieves some management headaches.

When virtualization is added to the equation, organizations can move workloads between physical servers as necessary. If one server requires maintenance, all workloads can be moved to one or more servers without downtime. If a server fails, a workload can be failed over or restarted on other servers to minimize downtime.

Although the cost savings and flexibility of server consolidation are appealing, it’s possible to over-consolidate. Even the most advanced, powerful server has its limits. Also, virtualization allows you to provision a new VM in minutes, making it easier to overburden a server, especially in today’s on-demand business IT climate. Over-consolidation hampers application performance and workload migration capabilities, and could even cause the entire server to crash. Some organizations push their servers to the limit to achieve an unrealistic goal of 100 percent resource utilization, while others do it accidentally because they lack effective policies related to VM provisioning.

Verteks can help you develop a sound, low-risk server consolidation and virtualization strategy, and implement the right virtualization software to achieve your goals. Let us work with you to create and execute a plan that enables your organization to reduce costs and create more flexibility without compromising application performance or stability.