Making the Business Case for Virtualization

Challenging economic times push businesses to look for more efficient ways of doing things, even if these new ways include risks and learning curves. Adopting virtualization is one way companies are evolving to become more efficient, and thus, stay ahead of the competition.

However, as with any new IT initiative, often managers find they need to sell the new technology before their company will even think about adoption. After all, new technologies typically carry expenses, in the form of new hardware and software, and that learning curve mentioned above, which can be expensive, too.

When attempting to bring everyone on board with virtualization at your company, you’ll need to develop a carefully crafted business case. The following are ideas you can include that will help you sell the benefits of virtualization while easing concerns about risks and costs.

In short, virtualization removes the inefficiency of the old “one server, one application” model, in which many business servers are underutilized. With virtualization, one single server can function as multiple virtual machines, with each one having the ability to operate in different environments such as Windows, Linux, or Apache. When companies adopt virtualization, they are able to consolidate multiple servers onto fewer physical devices, helping to reduce space, power, and administrative requirements.

Virtualization offers quite a few other business benefits as well. For example, it helps with business continuity and offers complete data protection so your company is able to achieve continuous application availability and automated disaster recovery across physical sites. Virtualization allows you to simplify backup and recovery of your data and systems and to improve responsiveness through increased efficiency and flexibility. With all of these benefits on your side, your company’s IT will help drive innovation.

Let’s break down in detail the reasons that consolidating operations onto fewer servers can help your company. This consolidation allows you to:

  • Dramatically lower hardware costs and the associated cooling and space costs
  • Improve productivity across your organization and free up valuable IT time by simplifying your IT infrastructure, leaving more time to focus on strategic initiatives
  • Reduce costly downtime and streamline business contingency planning so you know your data is secure in the event of a natural disaster or another unforeseen event
  • Now, let’s examine the ways your business can use virtualization to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

One of the best benefits of virtualization is lower server infrastructure costs. Consolidating excess server and desktop hardware increases utilization rates, and reduced hardware means lower energy bills, too. You’ll save floor space, as well, because virtualization eliminates server sprawl by allowing you to run multiple applications on a single server. Your company could even reduce hardware and maintenance costs by as much as half.

Virtualization makes your company more efficient because it improves staff productivity, allowing your IT team to focus on more strategic projects that can help speed time to market for new products or services you are developing. Since IT employees won’t have to order and set up a new server for every new application, you can get applications up and running smoother and more efficiently. And, with fewer technical issues to manage, your IT team can focus on improving customer service or developing new projects. Virtualization can be combined with cloud services to move your servers to a hosted environment adds even more benefits that could include extensive backups, improved failover and greater security.

Finally, backup and recovery get a huge boost from virtualization because your company is protected from downtime and disaster. Business continuity solutions can be expensive and complex, but even the smallest organizations can achieve a solid continuity plan with virtualization.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to consider adopting virtualization for business. Now, it is your turn to sell these points to your team so you can begin reaping the benefits of virtualization.

Office 365 vs Hosted Exchange – Pros and Cons

The correct cloud hosting solution can help eliminate the hassles of server management and save you money with pricing that scales per usage. There are many hosting options, this type of evaluation can be rather complicated.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Office 365, you may be looking to see if this solution is a good fit for your company, or is a hosted Exchange service better suited for your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons to help you make the right choice for your business.

Pros Office 365
Because Office 365 is managed by Microsoft, some IT managers believe it is superior to third-party hosted Exchange providers. They believe Office 365 is empowered by Microsoft’s resources, investment, and level of expertise.

As updates are released to the public, your hosting provider will likely need to test it before introducing it to the customer hosting environment. However, Microsoft can test products as it develops them, potentially rolling out Office 365 updates more quickly.

When you choose Office 365, you automatically get Instant Messaging, Sharepoint and Lync Online for meetings. While other providers offer an array of added services, purchasing Office 365 bundles these services are upfront.

Cons Office 365
Office 365 limits the number of email recipients you can have within a 24-hour period to 500 for small business accounts and 1500 for enterprise accounts. These limits apply to the total number of emails you send and not just to one email.

While downtime is a risk associated with any provider, Microsoft’s Office 365 services seem to go down with more regularity than some companies are comfortable with. And when Office 365 customers have problems, they are left high and dry–which brings us to the next downfall.  Small business Office 365 users do not get direct phone support. Instead, they must settle for searching through Help articles on Microsoft’s website or posting questions to the community forum to resolve their problems.  An IT Support service partner helps in these situations.

Pros Hosted Exchange
Unlike Office 365, hosted Exchange providers excel at providing support to their customers–and this includes phone support. If you have a problem with your account or service, you can get real support from real people, right when you need it. With most hosted Exchange services, you only pay for what you want. For companies looking to make every dollar count, it makes sense to pay for only the services that are right for your business rather than be forced into a bundle.

Hosted Exchange providers do not impose the daily total recipient limits that Office 365 customers must contend with. But, for many users, the biggest issue with the Office 365 limits is that the clause is obscured in the fine print. Hosted Exchange providers give you easy access to customer support, so you can learn about your service from a person instead of reading about it in the fine print.

Cons Hosted Exchange
While everyone in the business world is already familiar with Microsoft, companies opting for a hosted Exchange solution will have to do their homework on the provider they choose. This issue can easily be mitigated by knowing what your company needs and discussing your options with the provider directly. Reliable providers will be happy to discuss your needs and concerns to guide you to the best solution for your company.

Customers who go with a hosted Exchange service may not get an automatic bundle of services. However, most customers appreciate the option of selecting only the services they need, creating custom solutions for their business.

Hosted Exchange providers are not directly affiliated with Microsoft, but they enjoy strong partnerships with, and full licensing of, Microsoft and its products. And, most providers employ Microsoft Certified Professionals who are experts in providing you with cloud services.

Deciding which cloud services are right for your business doesn’t have to be a headache. Simply weighing the pros and cons of using hosted Exchange or Office 360 can clear things up quickly. As with any business decision, the most important considerations are your particular company’s needs and budget. Whatever your situation, a little research will lead you to the solution that’s right for you. In addition, speak to an IT Support expert or consultant to provide an independent view of your needs.

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