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Communicating the business benefits of virtualization solutions

Let's face it -- while virtualization solutions get two thumbs up in IT, the business side needs to see ROI and clear business benefits. Learn how to prove both in our guide.

For many midsized organizations, the road to virtualization began with server virtualization because it offered clear ROI and almost immediate benefits. Now, midmarket IT shops are exploring their options for enterprise desktop virtualization, application virtualization and data center virtualization in search of similar long-term savings and additional business benefits -- and it's up to the CIO or IT manager to translate these benefits into terms the business will understand.

Beyond the technical requirements and implementations, it's important to understand how application or desktop virtualization solutions will affect your company's bottom line. From calculating ROI to exploring your specific use cases and licensing options, learn how a virtualization deployment can affect your organization (and your IT success) with our best practices.

This guide is part of SearchCIO-Midmarket.com's Midmarket CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the Midmarket CIO Briefings section.

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  Proving the business benefits of virtualization
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Virtualization solutions have been touted as IT's lifesaver for the past few years. This is true, in many ways. There are so many layers of virtualization that organizations can implement -- including server, storage, desktop, application, presentation and user state virtualization -- all of which change the metrics for IT departments.

But organizations should not implement virtualization for the sake of virtualization. Like all projects in IT, staying focused on obtaining a sufficient ROI is a key element in virtualization projects. Calculating ROI for virtualization solutions, both the hard and soft cost savings, can help you successfully execute your strategy.

First, focus on short-term needs when planning your virtualization strategy. If your server room is crammed full of physical machines and you're thinking of moving or expanding your data center, then server virtualization is the first place to start. If you have problematic applications in your desktop network, then perhaps you should start with application virtualization and resolve these problems once and for all.

Learn more in "Calculating ROI for server, desktop and application virtualization." Also:

  Understanding virtualization licensing
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Virtualization technologies can lead to significant cost savings, but virtualization licensing contracts can lessen those savings if done incorrectly. Understanding the complexities of virtualization licensing terms and pricing models is a crucial step to finding the right match for your organization -- and avoiding any costly gotchas.

From the server to the desktop , virtualization licensing compliance -- or a lack thereof -- is one potential pitfall that could result in hefty fines from providers. Avoiding such penalties involves knowing what licensing terms you have in place, and planning out how to manage virtualization licenses long term.

Learn more about virtualization licensing savings in "Which virtualization licensing model is right for you?." Also:

  Cloud computing and your virtualization strategy
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Virtualization solutions are an integral part of the cloud, and the cloud could have a huge impact on your company in the next few years, according to one IT management consultant. His advice? It's time to make cloud computing part of your overall IT strategy.

As a midmarket company, it may be in your best interest to fully understand and leverage the agility and cost-effectiveness that cloud-based services can provide. As the IT manager, your company will look to you for guidance -- a tough position to be in, when there's so much cloud computing noise to sort through.

While cloud computing is still in its nascent phases, we have had at least a few years to sift through the vast and largely superfluous information. First bit of important advice: Understand what cloud computing really is, and its benefits, so you can better plan your strategy.

For more straightforward information on cloud computing, read "Cloud computing basics: Planning and understanding a cloud strategy." Also:

  Risks, rewards of desktop virtualization solutions
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Making a business case for server virtualization is pretty straightforward: consolidate servers, and the ROI is immediate. With enterprise desktop virtualization? The ROI isn't so clear-cut.

Aside from the lowered costs that can result from desktops being swapped out for thin clients and simplified desktop management, the savings are hard to pinpoint. The technology can bolster security, meet a regulatory requirement or lower the number of hours billed back to the business. But CIOs will find themselves having to justify new capital expenditures for enterprise desktop virtualization, as well as the cost of retraining or hiring the talent needed to support it. An enterprise-wide virtual desktop infrastructure could mean spending money on heavy-duty servers, network components and storage, as well as paying more for licensing, and potentially for data center cooling and power.

Learn more in "Enterprise desktop virtualization may increase costs." Also:

  • Virtual desktops can squeeze more life out of old systems
    One IT director's lessons learned are the benefits of virtual desktops, from cost savings to efficiency and user mobility.
  • Desktop, server virtualization helps CIO fix disaster recovery plans
    A combination of desktop and server virtualization is helping one bank CIO sync up disaster recovery between the backup data center and production site.
  Virtual desktop deployment tips, tools
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If your organization is among the many planning to deploy desktop virtualization solutions, be forewarned: You need a plan. The degree of difficulty associated with virtualized environments increases as your organization climbs further up the networking stack. A company should construct a specific list of best practices that encompass every phase of a desktop virtualization project, from planning to deployment and ongoing maintenance.

In preparation for the move to desktop virtualization, Information Technology Intelligence Corp. has compiled a checklist for IT managers to follow to ensure a successful deployment.

For the full deployment checklist, read "10 best practices for deploying desktop virtualization solutions." Also:

  More resources
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