Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) no longer debate whether virtualized infrastructures are worth the investment – itrsquo;s now the industry standard, as virtualization gives SMBs greater IT efficiency, simplified IT operations and increased uptime at a moderate cost. But therersquo;s a problem: SMBs often lack the staff, budget and skills necessary to optimize performance in […]]> Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) no longer debate whether virtualized infrastructures are worth the investment – itrsquo;s now the industry standard, as virtualization gives SMBs greater IT efficiency, simplified IT operations and increased uptime at a moderate cost. But therersquo;s a problem: SMBs often lack the staff, budget and skills necessary to optimize performance in their virtual environment and reap all of the benefits possible from virtualization.
The question, then, is how can businesses to get the most out of their virtual environments without breaking the bank.
In a February 2014 Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper commissioned by VMware, Expand Your Infrastructure With Confidence And Control, Forrester evaluates how small and midsize companies manage virtualization today, to uncover where SMBs face challenges with growth in virtualization and how they can overcome these challenges and virtualize with more confidence and control.
After conducting in-depth surveys with 328 IT professionals, Forrester found that many SMBs could benefit from:
- Higher consolidation ratios;
- Simplified management tools;
- And clearer insight and control over capacity and performance
Below, we dive deeper into the survey insights and how SMBs can benefit from using advanced management tools in their IT environment..
SMBs Want More Value From Their Virtualization Investments
The survey found that SMBs are growing more dependent on virtual environments, though adaptation is slow for some. Survey respondents said 53 percent of their applications are virtualized. Thirty-two percent of respondents, however, said they have virtualized less than 40 percent of their application workloads.
Forrester found that, on average, many companies run 16 virtual machines per physical server, but 44 percent of respondents say they run six virtual machines or fewer per server. These companies could likely increase consolidation ratios for higher density, yielding them higher returns on virtualization investments. But higher consolidation ratios can also create performance and capacity management challenges for SMBs, so each SMB must make their own value judgment based on their business SLAs.
The survey also discovered that virtualized infrastructure growth is outpacing IT staff growth. In fact, 71 percent of respondents said they are actively growing their virtual infrastructures, but only 34 percent say they expect to be able to hire more staff.
All this added up to only 45 percent of respondents saying that they were very satisfied with their return on their virtualization investment. The other 55 percent said they were more or less satisfied. To increase satisfaction, and to meet the growing demands of IT, companies need to focus on acquiring more advanced virtualization management tools so employees can better manage environments with the same head count, saving valuable IT staff time and resources.
A Lack of VM Capacity and Performance Visibility is Hindering Optimization
To continue on their virtualization journey, companies need to have the confidence to increase VM capacity while maintaining performance levels. The problem for SMBs, however, is that they often lack the visibility, tools and process maturity to manage virtual environment capacity, identify and resolve issues and meet agreed service levels.
Only 28 percent of respondents said they track virtual infrastructure capacity continuously. The rest, totaling 71 percent, monitor utilization on either a monthly basis, or when dealing with a capacity shortfall.
This could explain why 42 percent of respondents said it is usually a business user who first alerts them to a problem. However, building customer confidence requires the ability to catch issues before they affect consumers, and, when they do pop up in front of consumers, quickly fixing them. This obstacle can be best overcome by establishing an ongoing process for performance monitoring and automated collection of capacity and performance data in a single location accessible by all team members.
Tactics to Help Maintain, Manage and Grow Your Virtualization Solution
While SMB virtual environments are growing and most IT teams may not have the budget to adapt to this increase in virtualization demand, there are a few things SMBs can do now to maintain, manage and grow their virtual environments.
- Talk with your virtualization provider. Many virtualization platforms include powerful, but simple, management tools with their platforms. For most (78 percent), all the necessary tools are included in their existing solution. But, if an organization needs more, it would benefit them to ask their virtualization provider about possible solutions.
- Focus on better alerting, faster remediation, and a single source of truth. SMBs today need to be able to quickly address and remediate issues with a lean IT team. That means teams need to be able to access different types of information at the same time. Virtualization management tools should provide teams with a single dashboard that looks across IT systems and can provide details to drill down on a specific performance problem.
- Above all, look for simple solutions. SMBs need tools that are easy-to-use, install, deploy and update. Forrester suggests organizations use tools that support a range of virtual and physical infrastructure types.
Small and midsize companies have already gained a lot from virtualization: greater IT efficiency, increased uptime and simplified operations. But maintaining these environments can be challenging as demand grows and IT budgets shrink. Through simple but robust management tools, SMBs can maintain and grow their virtual infrastructures without stretching already-thin resources and virtualize more with confidence and control.
Download the Forrester study today to read more insights and tips from the full survey.
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Source: Expand Your Virtual Infrastructure With Confidence And Control (A February 2014 Commissioned Study Conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of VMware): http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/smb/Expand-Your-Virtual-Infrastructure-With-Confidence-And-Control.pdf