Virtualisation is often touted as a way to reduce operational costs while improving efficiency, but calculating its return on investment (ROI) can be notoriously difficult. After all, it’s often assumed that using one physical machine to perform multiple roles will be more cost-effective, but this isn’t always the case.
A poorly executed virtualisation strategy can end up being unnecessarily costly due to factors such as additional software licensing and integration requirements.
How do you calculate the direct costs of virtualisation?
The direct costs of virtualised computing resources are, for the most part, comparable to those of non-virtualised systems, albeit significantly lower. For in-house servers, you’re still going to need expensive hardware, suitable cooling, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance.
Virtualisation is inherently more efficient, since it uses your available hardware to its fullest potential without having systems sitting idle when there is still work that needs to be done. As such, the direct costs associated with conventional IT infrastructures tend to be far lower.
Unfortunately, matters aren’t always quite that simple. Until recently, the cost of software licenses has been a significant complication when it comes to virtualisation projects. For example, regular desktop operating systems like Windows 10 are not licensed to run in virtualised environments. Instead, you’ll need to go for a more expensive volume-licensing agreement, such as those provided by Windows Server Standard or Data Center. Smaller businesses with fewer than 50 devices might choose Windows Server Essential.
What are the indirect costs of virtualisation?
When calculating the cost and potential ROI of your virtualisation strategy, it’s imperative that you factor in indirect costs, such as the time needed to deploy your new servers, virtual desktops, and applications. Configurations, migrations, and integrations all take time, and typically require expert knowledge that you may not have available in house.
Done correctly, virtualisation allows you to build a software-defined computing environment, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need the underlying hardware. For in-house deployments, you’ll need to factor in the cost of potential physical hardware failures and how long it would take to migrate your systems to a new server. The same applies when it comes to migrating to newer hardware.
While there’s no denying that virtualisation makes efficient use out of the underlying physical computing resources, it doesn’t always offer the best experience. Unless your virtual desktops and other resources are at least as fast and reliable as employees are already used to, productivity is going to end up suffering.
Moreover, not every server, desktop, or application is a good match for virtualisation, and there are some situations in which dedicated hardware provides better performance and greater reliability. That’s why you need to carefully determine what to virtualise to maximise your ROI.
Finally, before embarking on any virtualisation project, you’ll need to create a list of the costs of your existing infrastructure and compare them alongside the costs of your proposed virtual infrastructure. Be sure to consider the amount of labour required to get everything up and running in the new environment as well. In the long term, chances are virtualisation will work out a lot cheaper, more scalable, and more disaster-proof.
OfficeTek helps businesses across the West Midlands get more out of their IT without the high costs. Drop us a line today to find out how.
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