One of the fun things about being a leader in IT is the opportunity to see new technology and explain it to others for the first time. We love to see people's eyes get big and excited when some new wizardry is introduced and we're the first one to explain it.

In the simplest terms, a key outcome of virtualization that the virtual engine software layer divides either hardware or software into more pieces than originally existed. Instead of one operating system running, the same hardware can run several concurrently. For example, these can even be of different flavors such as Linux and Windows running on the same Intel hardware. Where it gets interesting is that each additional system running doesn't divide computing power in half, like you might expect. Instead, an overall gain in system utilization is found in this approach. This "unused" power frees computing resources without the need to procure new hardware.

Since it is new, there are inevitable questions an IT leader will receive when explaining this to non-technical members of your team - a.k.a management.

A Quick Primer

Here's a short list of resources that give an overview of the technical underpinnings of virtualization:

The Impact Question

Does virtualization it have a performance or operational impact to the systems?

Yes, there is some impact to performance when running a virtual layer on software or hardware. However it is much less of an impact than the cost of buying a new system. VMware's cost analysis summary breaks down the increased system utilization like this:



  • Expected increased utilization rates from 5-15%. In some cases up to 80%.

  • Deferred datacenter construction costs by $1,000 per square foot ( IDC's Datacenter Trends Survey, 2007).

  • Attain 50-70% higher VM density per host than is possible with commodity offerings.

  • Achieve 20-30% lower cost-per-application.


Below is a visualization of some of the data-center expense reduction opportunities from a virtual environment.

Perhaps one of the most important areas for consideration is how virtualization not only extends the investment in hardware, but also allows an IT department to be ready to ramp up more systems when needed, without waiting to procure more hardware.

Virtualization is becoming mainstream, and it is worth the fight to earn the right to deploy and operate a virtual environment. Virtualization is a nice gateway into cloud computing services and it prepares a team for new processes and tools. One benefit we've seen is that IT teams can use virtualization to get ready for and configure new projects quickly.

Is it free? No. Is it magic? Yes. Especially for the non-technical business executive. You'll soon receive new questions, such as "How did you get that new system setup so quickly?" It will remain up to you, the IT leader, to decide whether you want to share the secrets up your sleeve.

Do you have an interesting story explaining how virtual environments work in your company? Share it with us in the comments.

Photo credit: pokpok313