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The business value of adopting a virtual computing environment

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Cloud computing may not be a new concept, but virtualisation really unlocks its potential as a means to galvanise IT for business in the 21st century.

As far back as 2012, around 70 per cent of all businesses ran at least a few application workloads in the virtual realm, demonstrating how cloud computing has become fundamental to creating resilience in IT infrastructures.

Confidence in virtualisation has escalated, with the technology evolving to accommodate hypervisors and virtual machine management platforms.

The benefits of virtualisation

Virtualisation allows any business-critical applications, large and small, to be consolidated onto fewer servers. Primarily, this enables your company server-usage rate to vastly increase – a crucial cost-cutting practice that will maximise efficiencies in an era when 30 per cent of firms pay for physical servers to sit idle.

Furthermore, provisioning and deployment rates are vastly improved through virtualisation, bringing benefits to workload balancing, improved resilience and a dimension of flexibility that enables administrators to switch virtual machines (VMs) dynamically between servers.

The efficiency-giving properties of virtualisation really hit home when VMs are run on the cloud, with a managed cloud service being the ideal option. Improved efficiencies of IT resources become enhanced when applied to a cloud infrastructure service because it enables needs-dependent optimisation: you only pay for the resources your VMs require, and you can draw on the cloud infrastructure’s power as and when you need to.

When performance requirements change, administrators can easily migrate and balance workloads through virtualisation, an especially useful element when work capacities fluctuate or are difficult to forecast.

Virtualisation drawbacks

No technology transmissions are free of an element of trial-and-error, but with diligence, planning and careful implementation, these can be overcome in the case of virtualisation.

Initial investment in virtualisation software and any extra hardware component-spend will ultimately depend on existing networks; many enterprises are able to bring in virtualisation without having to make huge cash outlays, while a managed IT services provider can also free up costs through purchase plans.

Licensing of software can be a source of added expense, but with software vendors increasingly adapting to the virtualisation-friendly climate of modern business, this is becoming an obsolete issue. However, it’s always best to check with vendors at the soonest possible opportunity for clarity on their position.

Finally, measures need to be put in place to ensure IT staff have the necessary expertise to implement and manage a virtualised environment. For users, operations will remain fairly similar, but administrators need to ensure that applications moving to the virtualised environment will adapt easily to their new home.

Optimisation on the cloud

To get the best out of virtualisation, applications in the virtual environment should migrate to a cloud service from the on-premises infrastructure, but bosses should take note of some considerations before taking action.

Think about how important to the overall business mission applications are – what are the needs and requirements of each application and how do they compare with what cloud service providers are offering? Some applications will be a natural fit for the cloud, others will be better suited to managed hosting services.

These mission-critical and business-critical applications are fundamental because staff, clients, customers and partners each need access on a round-the-clock basis. This availability has to be conditioned by application stability and total security at all times.

A robust and predictable VM recovery plan also needs to be in place, lest businesses risk heading into downtime – potential losses in productivity and revenue which could easily impact negatively upon client and customer relationships.

With this in mind, cloud providers need to have the right automation solutions in place and the know-how to implement them so that recovery time objectives and availability are observed to the letter.

The sky’s the limit

Virtualisation will be the obvious way forward to many firms, after the pros and cons have been weighed up; the stumbling blocks associated with its implementation soon turn into creases that can be ironed out by a specialist IT team, or a managed IT services provider.




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Tags: Business, Digital Transformation