Many organizations are improving communications through the virtualization of real time applications such as voice and unified communications (UC). All the financial and practical benefits of traditional server virtualization still apply as companies consolidate voice and UC into their data center. Namely: reduced capital expense, improved efficiencies, reduced risk, plus the savings on operational expenses since voice and UC can be managed with all other business applications on shared infrastructure. While the concept of virtualization has been around for a long time, it continues to be a leading trend in the transformation of data centers as organizations find new ways to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.
While hardware and energy expenses are the obvious savings, organizations sometimes overlook the reductions in operating costs. These savings can be drastic, especially in highly distributed organizations. The ability to easily manage your voice and UC in conjunction with other business application simplifies administration. It makes server testing, deployment and policy compliance easier as installations can be created from standard images. There are also IT benefits as it relates to the support of remote sites. When you have dedicated servers for individual applications managed by remote staff it can get really expensive. The common server infrastructure and application can reduce the remote site IT support staff requirements. Additionally, backup or clustered instances of your telephony, audio/video conferences and unified communications applications at your remote sites can play a critical role with load balancing and fail-over. This can add tremendous benefits to your business continuity and disaster recovery (DR) plans.
With virtualization there are a number of benefits seen when it comes to reduced costs. First, there’s reduced hardware expenses. Virtualization vendors once touted claims as high as 50 to 100 virtual machines on a single physical server, but, even if you go with a conservative 10:1 consolidation ratio, there’s still significant savings on hardware costs and maintenance. Now that leading voice and UC applications are offered as purely software-based solutions, you can add telephony, audio/video conferencing, unified messaging, contact center, etc. to your data center on the standard off-the-shelf servers you are familiar with.
Reduced power consumption is a nice added cost savings. Organizations can become more energy efficient through server consolidation as a smaller number of fully utilized servers consume far less power than a large number of under-utilized ones. Additionally, there are real estate, cooling, and backup power savings that go along with the smaller footprint, not to mention the aesthetics of a clean data center.
Virtualized server environments have a number of advantages when it comes to improved efficiencies and simplified administration that are often not available with physical servers. Advantages like live migration, storage migration, fault tolerance, high availability and distributed resource planning help you maximize uptime of your critical applications like voice and UC. These virtualization technologies keep your virtual machines up and running and give them the ability to quickly recover from unplanned outages. The ability to easily backup and move from one virtual machine to another is one of the best business continuity benefits out there. Additionally, combining these software advantages with fault tolerant servers can create a rock solid environment where it’s needed.
In addition to business continuity, disaster recovery for your communications is greatly improved in a virtualized environment. By reducing the number of physical servers required to run your operation, you have a complete backup solution at a remote site as we mentioned above, or in the cloud at a co-lo facility or offered as a service from your system integrator. In the past, this type of backup solution was cost prohibitive for most. The DR site had to have the exact, often proprietary, hardware configuration as the production site. This can be very costly and an administration nightmare to keep in sync. Now, through virtualization, this type of DR plan is more affordable and easier to maintain. One thing to consider as you plan to virtualize your communications is how your vendor prices user software licenses. Make sure you are not paying for the idle voice and UC licenses that are part of your disaster recovery plan.
For those of us that have suffered from server sprawl, we know all too well how this begins. The server room starts off clean, tidy and with plenty of physical space, but one-by-one we continued to add additional applications that required a dedicated server. Critical applications like voice, contact centers and unified messaging once required isolated processing power, memory and storage space to satisfy business requirements. Now that these applications no longer require proprietary dedicated servers, IT departments can escape the server vender lock that once limited options. Virtualization provides an ideal way for organizations to minimize the number of servers needed. By creating virtual machines that meet the exact requirements, you can overcome the hardware limitation and latency issues that prevented the virtualization of real time applications like voice communications in the past.
There is one common theme across all IT organizations in today’s economic environment – to do more with less. Virtualization is a great way to improve your organization’s communications and provide higher quality services with less hardware, lower costs, and reduced administration hassle. Click below to learn how NEC’s software-based unified communications applications have advanced the virtualization strategies of numerous organizations.