Maximising the return on investment (ROI) derived from the virtualisation of your IT resources is not an easy task, simply because of the number of variables that are involved.
However, as any mathematician will confirm, breaking down the analysis process is the only logical way to move forward and, once this task has been completed at the planning stage, the process of calculating ways of optimising the migration to a virtual environment can then begin in earnest.
One of the most effective ROI calculators seen so far was released by Centrix Software at the VM '09 event, held as part of IP Expo in London in early October of this year.
According to the company, its WorkSpace ROI calculator is designed to help firms investing in virtualisation assess where further server, application and energy cost savings can be achieved.
Lewis Gee, the company's sales and marketing vice president, says the tool shows how increasing server density and rationalising application installs can improve the ROI of virtualisation infrastructures by up to 40 per cent.
Interestingly, Centrix claims that the ROI calculator is the first tool of its type to give an assessment based on application metering in a virtual environment.
In use, it calculates the server and application cost and CO2 savings that enterprises could achieve by deploying Centrix WorkSpace, a virtual access platform that enables companies to optimise virtualised environments, meter the delivery of applications on a per user basis and apply charge-back metrics to application delivery.
"The ROI tool gives enterprises the ability to calculate the savings that can be made by supporting more users with fewer virtualised servers, how this translates to CO2 reduction and the affect of reduced application installations on operational costs," said Gee.
"Adopting virtualisation gives businesses a great opportunity to fine-tune their service delivery and run lean computing environments," he added.
According to Gee, having this visibility of how IT services are used across the business significantly reduces the cost and risk associated with virtualisation projects whilst accelerating delivery and adoption of the services.
Whilst the free ROI online tool is useful, it's important to understand that Centrix is far from being the only vendor in town with these solutions so, as always, it's important to do your research before making your investment in virtualisation technology.
As always, planning is all in this regard, so it pays to plan the virtualisation process meticulously and this can be achieved by breaking down the process into its constituent steps:
1) Classify the data to be virtualised
2) Create policy based on the data classification
3) Virtualise and consolidate the server infrastructure
4) Virtualise the file systems
5) Virtualise the data storage into pools and class tiers
6) Place data in correct pool based on policy
7) Use the correct protocols per pool
8) Use the correct technology per class
9) Automate the process where possible
10) Compile documentation on all aspects of the virtualisation process
Using the above 10-step process at the planning stage will help you go a long way towards the effective planning process of virtualisation and, by keying and rekeying the data into your ROI calculator, you can quickly develop what-if scenarios without having to resort to complex spreadsheet calculations.
According to IBM, the ability to pool storage and mirror data is only a small part of what the virtualisation solution should bring to the better business table.
A complete virtualised solution, the computing giant says, should be able to do a lot more in order to become the `data services engine' for the organisation to begin the transition to true cloud computing.
According to IBM's recently released Global CIO Study 2009 (), around 50 per cent of CIOs report that they are unable to effectively handle a 200 per cent processing load increase or 50 per cent decrease.
Marc Dupaquier, IBM's general manager of the global mid-market, said that more than half of CIOs at midsize organisations are actively engaged in setting strategy and enabling flexibility and change.
All of the virtual offerings In IBM's Midmarket portfolio, he explained, are easy to install and maintain, and, to assist customers, IBM has trained its business partners to help clients achieve a rapid return on their investment.
Against this backdrop, it's important to realise that you are not alone in trying to quantify your ROI from virtualisation. A good systems integrator will always be able to assist you in this regard.