However, what may come as a surprise to finance directors is that virtualisation also increases the risk of unplanned downtime. Therefore, there are a number of things finance directors should know about virtualisation to avoid any pitfalls. Is there a business case for virtualisation?As always before investing in a new technology, finance directors should evaluate whether it will provide any return on their investment. The first step is to ask the IT departments to assess the business’s current server usage. The key questions include: does the business have common applications running on a number of different servers; and does it have enough servers that could be consolidated? In short, FDs need to assess if there is a business case for virtualisation. Tools to calculate ROI and help evaluate the business case are available online, enabling a quick assessment. One of these tools is VMware’s TCO calculator and Marathon’s virtualisation ROI calculator What will implementing virtualisation actually entail? Businesses should not simply jump on the virtual bandwagon – they should consider factors which could make the implementation costly and complicated. For example, finance directors may be unaware that the original licensing terms and conditions may no longer apply after applications have been migrated to the virtualised environment. To prevent any nasty surprises, FDs must assess all the factors that the implementation entails, from licensing to vendor support. How can I prevent development costs from soaring? As all finance directors know, implementing a new technology requires dedicated resources, budget and time. Many FDs are also all too familiar with IT projects that spiral out of control, missing deadlines and incurring unforeseen costs. So how can they avoid this nightmare scenario with a virtualisation project? Industry experts have estimated that the first stage of the virtualisation implementation – planning – constitutes 90 per cent of the project. The actual technical stage is in fact relatively simple. To avoid any hiccups, which could prove expensive for the business and disruptive for end-users, FDs need to be part of the planning process. How can I avoid unexpected business continuity risks? While virtualisation is useful for protecting applications from planned downtime, protecting virtual environments from unplanned downtime is a different matter. As any finance director realises, the cost of just a few minutes of unplanned downtime can have serious consequences on application availability, slowing down operations and costing the business dear. That is why it is vital that businesses afford the time to plan and consider a solution that combines virtualisation technology with the high availability protection necessary to keep the business going through disruptions. Emerging virtualisation technologies are opening doors by removing existing barriers of entry – cost and complexity – and more and more businesses are starting to reap the benefits of the technology. Despite the hype, before embarking on the virtualisation route, finance directors should assess carefully what their business needs are and choose the right technology accordingly. Most importantly, they need to understand the implications that virtualisation can have on the availability of their critical applications. If they get it right, their business will get the most out of virtualisation technologies. *Nick Turnbull is director of sales, EMEA and Asia Pacific, Marathon Technologies. Picture source
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