Server Virtualisation – Some Real Cost Savings

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Server virtualisation promises to save space, costs and energy, but two UK local authorities have discovered there’s more to achieving these benefits than the technology alone.

Much has been written about the benefits of the latest virtualisation technologies. After years of unchecked growth, virtualisation has put the spotlight firmly on running cheaper, leaner and smaller data centres and desktop IT infrastructures.

But like every new technology, in practice, it is not what it can do for your organisation, but what your organisation does with it, that determines its success. And two local authorities have been through that proving process, and have come successfully out the other side to share their experiences with eWEEK Europe.

Power bill cut by 44 percent

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has used server virtualisation to cut the number of servers it maintains down from 150 to just eight and save a predicted £1.7 million on related projects over the next three years. In addition it has reduced the IT energy bill by a staggering 44 per cent, proving the council has made the technology work for it.

Keith Clark, head of Business Improvement at Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead shared his thoughts on why the project was a success. “There were a number of drivers behind this project, the first being in-house as we were running out of data centre space,” he said. “And a lot of our [data centre] equipment was coming to the end of its life.

“As a local council, we’re also subject to stiff carbon emission reduction targets set by the government. So there were the additional potential energy savings we could realise by not having multiple servers and cooling and contribute to the organisation’s overall action plan to reduce the amount of energy we use.”

But Clark knew the devil would be in the detail and stressed the importance of getting to grips with the technologies before actually implementing them. “The initial work started 24 to 18 months ago, when a small architecture team started to do some capacity planning,” he explained.

“Generally, the IT team had had some virtual machine experience, but we still spent around £10,000 on training people up. And this was all while we were at the RFI [request for information stage]. And once we’d run a mini tender, we decided to go for consulting services for the implementation. We wanted to make sure the level of service in the day job didn’t degrade.”

Having decided to engage specialist IT consultancy Intercept, Clark added that the speed of the implementation was also a key reason for its success. “We wanted to do it 100 per cent and do it quickly,” said Clark. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have had such a big rate of return.”

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