Uncovering the ROI of virtualisation (Part 2)

Return on investment (ROI) is all about getting your money’s worth and perhaps more importantly, helping justify future investments.

In my last post, I offered some tips on how to effectively implement your virtualisation projects and realise a ROI, by considering the business needs.

In this follow-up post, I’ll be examining how important it is to ensure that assets are fully utilised and that the virtualisation strategy is really working for the business.

We look at how businesses can unlock the ROI with virtualisation by following a few simple steps:-

1.) Plan

2.) Baseline

3.) Measure

Plan

Planning for cost saving and return on investment is often overlooked at the early stages of any project. Organisations are typically unaware of the potential a new technology can offer and so lack clarity to define how it will meet business objectives.

Initial planning is important to find out exactly what the technology can deliver back to the business and aid in setting expectations.

Consider, virtualisation within an ITIL framework for example. How would it be run through the service strategy and in to design?

The service strategy provides guidance on how to use service management as a tool to satisfy business needs, but how do these feed in to the Service Portfolio to effective assist the business operation? What credibility do they add to the IT operation?

The ultimate consideration is; how can the technology move effectively into service design and then to service operation – or service catalogue – and be a valuable tool to service the business?

Baseline

For baseline analysis, it’s important to consider a number of questions: Where are we as an organisation? What are the true costs of service? Are these tangible and measured today? How are these reported and costs managed?

Bringing this information together pre-virtualisation will enable organisations to measure the success of the overall project, and how they fair on the ongoing service level management that the business requires.

Another measure that has to be catered for is that of ongoing server improvement. Once virtualisation has been deployed, how do we keep this in check and how improve on it?

So for many companies, realising ROI really depends on them asking the right, and often most probing questions at the very beginning.

These are questions that should be asked of any project technology or service that has already been deployed, or is under consideration. At the core, it’s essential to find out if a project will really save money and how can we prove it?

Measure

A probing measurement exercise in any virtualisation project will reveal some very pertinent mathematics on how servers have been managed, expanded, enhanced and developed over the past few years.

With technology leaping so far ahead of many application capabilities, we’ve actually seen many asset life-expectancies extended from three to five or more years.

Server hardware has also become highly affordable over the past years, making it possible for application owners to obtain more assets and develop systems at justifiable costs to the business owners.

Some could contemplate that if data centre space was more abundant and the cost of electricity more palatable then virtualisation may not have taken off as successfully for another few years.

Instead, we now have technologies that allow us to release assets from our data centres and consolidate applications that underutilise the resource capabilities of the modern day server hardware.

The important piece here is how we measure this successful data centre strategy, and continue to manage and realise the ongoing ROI of virtualisation.

Part one of this article can be found here.

Andrew McCreath is an Engagement Partner at GlassHouse Technologies. GlassHouse is a global provider of IT infrastructure services enabling organisations to consolidate, virtualise and manage their IT environments.