It’s hard to imagine a technology that is hotter than virtualization. From the IT press to the server room, techies are gushing about the wonders of this technology as they bandy about esoteric terms from cloud computing to iSCSI. Where virtualization falls flat is when it comes time to actually “sell” the technology to colleagues in the C-suite.
Unlike technical innovations with a direct impact on end users, a virtual infrastructure looks and feels the same to an end user or non-technical person. The web, for example was something you could touch and feel, but applications residing in a virtual server (hopefully) react in exactly the same manner as a non-virtualized server, and the server room still has lots of silver-grey boxes with blinking green lights complimenting the dull roar of cooling fans. Even a seasoned technical person likely would not be able to tell the difference between a virtual and traditional environment by a quick glance, much less the CEO or CFO who writes a check to build that infrastructure, so conveying the benefits of virtualization becomes difficult when done through a traditional “show and tell” pitch.
Aside from things like reducing infrastructure costs, dispense with theoretical-sounding talk of cloud computing and stick with a metric anyone can understand: time. A virtualized environment takes hardware out of the equation, and therefore dramatically reduces the time associated with hardware acquisition, setup and maintenance of business applications. A business application can be provisioned, relocated or have its resource allocation changed in minutes, where in the past days of productivity might be lost. While these time savings may seem trivial, think of a massive enterprise software implementation where a couple of days of lost time is literally worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Virtualization allows for new testing environments to be created, deployed and recreated in moments, rather than days that would have had users and consultants twiddling their thumbs while IT did its work. Old applications can be moved to new hardware, and virtual servers quickly put back into play in case of disaster.
Even minutes of downtime saved during business hours can translate into massive savings that justify the expenditure on a virtual environment. Stop speaking about clouds and ESX, and couch virtualization as an enterprise-wide time saver, and the CEO and CFO won’t be able to get virtualization implemented quickly enough.