Three virtualization lessons learned

VMware can be adopted gradually, IT director warns

Tim Hays, IT director for Lextron, a wholesale distributor of animal health pharmaceuticals, found that virtualizing the company's servers provided a host of benefits, from reduced costs to improved efficiencies (see main story for more on this project). He offers these three ways to get the most bang for your virtualization buck.

1. Right-size the hardware. When moving to virtualization, and putting many server eggs in one hardware basket, it's tempting to just go with the biggest, most robust servers available. But that's not always the best course. "People ask why we used DL-360s, which are kind of entry-level servers," Hays says. "And it's because mathematically, it made sense. The price we were looking at and the performance we were looking to get was achieved with less-expensive equipment."

2. Understand your needs. Hays says it's also tempting to purchase all of VMware's bells and whistles, including Vmotion, which automatically moves virtual servers from one physical box to accommodate load balancing or failures. "But if I can move a server with a system administrator's assistance in 5 minutes vs. using a piece of software that costs a considerable amount of money and can do it automatically, for my environment, I'll do it myself."

3. Try it for free first. Hays says VMware's GSX version is free and a good place to start. "Just try it," he says. "With GSX, you can play around with virtualization and see if it will work for your organization -- without a huge up-front investment."

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