Overcoming Business Challenges when driving Virtualization

In the current economic climate, the need to reduce costs has never been greater.  The public sector is not immune to this with tax revenues declining, and a greater scrutiny on how money is being spent.  There are many case studies on how virtualization can save money and at the same time increase efficiency, but this one caught my eye - ‘Virtualization Strategy Provides Tools, Processes, and Compliance Capabilities to Enhance Business Support and Drive Adoption’

How Microsoft Does IT

The IT Showcase site on TechNet hosts case studies that our own IT organization has produced while implementing our technologies internally.  We have a long tradition of ‘eating our own dogfood’ and as a company we have just under 90,000 permanent employees across 105 countries, so rolling software out is it not a trivial task.  What however makes the case studies different is that they are there to promote best practices rather than be a sales tool.

The article outlines some really interesting business issues and how they worked around them, and highlighted things that I have seen go in Microsoft and in many customers.  Watching people replace underutilized end-of-life servers with new servers that were 6 times as powerful… always fun, but probably not the best use of funds.  Internal groups being worried of losing control if they moved to shared infrastructure, and also no coordinated purchasing of hardware; both common things to find.

One of the solutions they used to gain the business buy-in was Operations Manager reports to grade servers and highlight to senior management the usage.  Hot, warm, cold and permafrost were the categories, and with KPIs senior managers could then easily see the number of servers they could virtualize, and the cost savings they could make.  Additionally they could see the results from other groups, as could their managers…

They also created a new group that all purchasing requests would go through.  The default behavior was changed to ‘we do not purchase physical servers unless you can provide a business case’ which delivered a huge change in behavior.

The latest stats that I have seen are that we have moved 3,500 physical servers (25%) to virtual servers that are managed by 4 people and has saved Microsoft over $10 million to date.

Do download and read the full article, it is an interesting view on the business challenges rather than the technology challenges of moving to a virtualized environment.