Project Highlander

Having better ‘green credentials’ than your competitor seems to be the in thing at the moment.  You’ll often see a company saying that they will plant X number of trees for each purchase you make, etc.  Of course, this is always a good thing and anything that is done, no matter how small, to improve the environment benefits everyone.

Another hot topic at the moment is that of server virtualisation.  Since Microsoft released Hyper-V, and since the Hyper-V/VMWare debate/war has been raging, I am nearly always asked about it when visiting clients.  The questions always revolve around the same topics: what is needed to be able to start virtualising servers?, how reliable it is?, will users be able to detect a difference when using a virtual server?, by how much can the costs actually be reduced?, etc.

With regards to the last question above about calculating the cost-saving (and linking to the first paragraph), I was sent an email recently from a friend with a link for a website where you could ‘instantly calculate’ the cost-saving benefits you could achieve if you used virtualisation technologies.  Admittedly I was pretty dubious at first as I believed that being able to put a number to this had to be rather tricky because there are, in my opinion, too many immeasurable factors to consider.  However, after going through the site and reading about the calculations and how they are made, I have to say that it is pretty impressive.  They take into account not just the monetary savings of not running the physical hardware when you virtualise a server, but also things like the reduction in energy usage, support requirements, downtime, air conditioning, CO2 output, etc.

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The above screenshots I took from the site itself, you can see it here if you want to calculate your own cost-savings, and you really should go through regardless of whether you believe or not the results.  Before dismissing the site as mere marketing propaganda by Microsoft, I should point out that although it is a Microsoft site, most of the information (including the calculations of cost-saving) has been provided by an independent body (Alinean) rather than Microsoft.

Oh, and why is this post titled “Project Highlander”?  Well, quite a while ago I was working at a bank in London that was seriously investigating how many servers could be virtualised in order to save IT expenditure.  Management wanted us to reduce the number of physical servers to an absolute minimum as the bank was going through rather a bad time financially and they needed to make massive expenditure cuts.  During one of the kick-off meetings the managers asked for a name for the project (perhaps more important than the actual project…?) to which a colleague of mine quipped “That’s easy, ‘Project Highlander’; because ‘there can be only one’! ”.  Although he said it jokingly, the name was approved immediately!  However, we never actually got the number of physical servers down to 1, as it was deemed a little too risky.

P.S.  Unless you’ve seen the excellent film “Highlander” you won’t understand the previous paragraph…

P.P.S For my Spanish readers, the film was called “Los Imortales”, rather than “Highlander” in Spain.