Information Technology (IT) groups face continuing demands from their customers to reduce IT costs, improve efficency and deliver a higher-quality service.    At times, many of these objectives may conflict, especially in  situations where you must invest to save, and in these cases water-tight business cases and positive returns on investment are a must.

The driving force behind this is that organizations must control their costs, especially at a time of increasing energy prices and the prospect of economic downturn.    IT groups for sometime have been using IT consolidation as an opportunity to reduce costs and improve services, and Virtualization can help achieve this goal.

A simplistic view is the process of reducing the number of physical servers and combining them onto a smaller number of physical servers.  In affect you will end up with two or more logical servers running on a physical box.    There are many benefits including the opportunity to save on data center costs, space, energy, air conditioning etc.    A quick win is the virtualization of the many separate development and test environments.

Virtualization also introduces an opportunity to provide greater flexibility in your IT infrastructure.  A term that Microsoft refers to as Dynamic IT.   Many IT organisations will have physical servers which are under utilized, and this unused capacity can be utilized by servers which have peak's in demand.   

This is a major shift in the IT industry, and a huge opportunity to become much more efficent and save cost.    As you would expect Microsoft has a product Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 which provides the technology for customers to virtualize.   Microsoft Solution Accelerators help take this technology and assist organizations in planning and deployment.  

And guess what?   Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 and the Microsoft Solution Accelerators are both FREE!   As a free version I'm sure you will appreciate there are some limitations so look carefully at the features you need and consider if the commercial versions of Windows Server 2008 - Standard, Enterprise or Datacenter are more suitable, however you must pay for these versions.

Here is a summary of the product:

"Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 provides a simplified, reliable, and optimized virtualization solution, enabling improved server utilization and reduced costs. Since Hyper-V Server is a dedicated stand-alone product, which contains only the Windows Hypervisor, Windows Server driver model and virtualization components, it provides a small footprint and minimal overhead. It easily plugs into customers’ existing IT environments, leveraging their existing patching, provisioning, management, support tools, processes, and skills.

Key Benefits

  • Improved server utilization
  • Small footprint
  • Minimal overhead

IT Pros can easily to leverage their existing knowledge and skills with Microsoft virtualization products, as well as the collective knowledge of the community, minimizing any learning curve. In addition, with Microsoft providing comprehensive support for Microsoft applications and heterogeneous guest operating systems, customers can virtualize with confidence and peace of mind."

For further information about the product, including detailed comparisons and case studies visit: http://www.microsoft.com/servers/hyper-v-server/ 

For further information on Microsoft Solution Accelerators visit: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/solutionaccelerators/