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Virtual Data Centre: The pros and cons

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Virtual data centre

Virtualisation can seem like a nirvana for business IT infrastructures. All the wrinkles in server virtualisation have not yet been ironed out, but the technology can improve capacity agility, workload migration and expand disaster recovery options.

Not all organisations are suited to virtualisation, however. Bosses should be aware of the following advantages and drawbacks before beginning to formulate a way forward.

Cost effectiveness

Benefit: For firms with tight budgets, virtualisation can offer an economical solution that avoids heavy expenditure on new or updated hardware. Enabling automation of routine IT processes also reduces the financial burden attached to hiring more IT staff and centralises resource management.

Firms that pull in their hardware sprawl and reduce their server footprint through virtualisation can expect to see a drop in energy consumption, while cooling expenditure normally used for server climate control can also come down.

Drawback: On the other hand, the upfront costs of virtualisation can escalate which can be tough for less wealthy businesses to cope with. Conventional servers cost far less than those that can be upgraded to accommodate virtual servers, and most firms end up facing high initial price hurdles to implement server desktop virtualisation. When weighing up the costs, bosses should recognise that shifting to the cloud is a long-term investment.

Resource efficiencies

Benefit: Virtualisation allows businesses to maximise the potential of their resources, hardware, tools and systems at their disposal. Crucially virtualisation enables server consolidation, enhancing an organisation’s ability to run a range of applications and system processes from one server.

Where maybe 20 servers were once needed, one will suffice through virtualisation, freeing up huge amounts of real space and energy. In contrast, more tried and tested infrastructures that rely on a number of servers might operate to a fraction of their true potential.

On a broader level, businesses can more easily manage newly streamlined resources, balance workloads and spread work to underused servers which will eventually help to speed operations up.

Drawback: Virtualisation is not suitable for all applications and servers, as support may not be available from all application vendors.

Scalability

Benefit: Virtualisation affords great scalability, allowing businesses to manufacture new resources if needed by a number of applications. Adding extra servers can be done with ease without the need for major investment.

This aspect might be particularly attractive to small businesses who are aiming to conduct research and development through a data centre.

Drawback: Efficiency is one of the founding benefits of virtual data centres, and firms should take care not to abuse this. Easily-made additional servers can begin to cause ‘server sprawl’, if their creation is not kept in check, and less careful administrators can find themselves managing 10 or 20 servers, when only 5 are really needed or used.

 

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Tags: IT Transformation, Technology