Virtualization: Bump Up Your Server Utilization for Big Enterprise IT Gains

Are you getting all the savings out of your virtualized servers that you expected? You may be surprised to learn that there's much you can do to make your data center even more efficient.

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Over-provisioning hardware caused new problems, he adds. In companies that don't virtualize, they're often seeing utilization of physical servers only in the seven to 12 percent range, according to Cappuccio. "That's where consolidation began, because the view was that there must be a better way to get more out of these machines," he says. "The problem today is we're still finding machines in virtual environments that are only running at about 25 percent of their capabilities. It's better than it used to be, but it's still not good enough."

By truly utilizing the full potential capacity of the servers they already have, companies can even save long term, according to Cappuccio. "For many people, using increased utilization can defer the need for bigger data centers, and save those capital expenses sometimes by years."

This kind of usage analysis used to be something that companies did automatically.

"On mainframes, in the old days, companies always ran them at 90 percent capacity because they were so expensive to run," he says. "Companies wanted to get the most use possible out of them."

When I spoke with Cappuccio about these trends and numbers, I was truly taken aback. I bet many of you have that same reaction as you read these statistics and wonder how your own virtualized environment would compare.

In fact, I dare you to do just that. What do you think about jumping in to find out where your data center stands in the world of server utilization? If your virtual servers aren't being adequately utilized, you are shoveling buckets and buckets of money out the door. And you're also creating more work for your staff and wasting power and floor space.

So what do you do?

Take an inventory of your virtual servers, if you haven't done so already.

Collect analytics to see what's running on them, with detailed utilization rates on memory and processing power, so you can get the clearest picture of what's happening in your data center.

If the utilization is low, now you can start to investigate where you can make changes, from moving virtualized applications from one server to another to increase utilization rates at once.

According to Cappuccio, this problem is the result of IT leaders looking for many years at data centers, hardware and applications in the same old ways, and these patterns often don't change overnight.

But as enterprise IT evolves and changes, we can discover new lessons and gain insights that can produce improvements we didn't even anticipate. That's the beauty of staying on top of the changes within IT and taking advantage of the lessons learned by others.

Think about the benefits of a virtualization utilization review this summer:

You can save money for your company, increase productivity, reduce staff workloads, find efficiencies and gain deep new insights into your IT systems.

And there's nothing virtual about that kind of progress.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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