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Solutions & Services > Virtualization With CDW & VMware


Have you started virtualizing?
Now what?

You may know the benefits of virtualization. You could even have started virtualizing some of your systems. And eventually, you’d like to migrate to the cloud. But like small and midsize organizations across the country, time and budget constraints kept you from experiencing all the benefits of virtualization and moving toward the cloud.

At CDW, we’ve partnered with VMware, the global leader in virtualization and cloud computing, to help you get where you want to be. Where end users are better served, business agility is improved, cost benefits are realized and you’re prepared for all that lies ahead.



Virtualization is the First Step

Virtualization is considered a foundational technology for cloud computing.
The more virtualized the infrastructure, the higher the resource utilization
within the shared pool. In fact, some have even gone so far as to say that
without virtualization, there would be no cloud.

Assess your Current Environment: Identify which of your
servers are compatible with virtualization, review your current
storage environment and ensure that you have the budget in
place for virtualization.

Take Our Server Virtualization Self-Assessment »

Analyze Your Landscape

Identifying candidates for server virtualization can be as much art as it is science. However, it’s best to start with some hard facts—how many servers the data center has, how efficiently they are being utilized, the age and health of the machines and future application usage.

The best way to get a handle on those statistics is through an audit. Audit logs can offer a great deal of information regarding activities that have taken place on servers. The major virtualization suppliers offer plenty of tools to perform such audits.

The audit will help clarify which servers are candidates for replacement and which are candidates for virtualization. Older servers nearing end of life generally are better candidates for replacement, experts say. And newer servers can be repurposed to maximize their lifespan.

Calculate the Total Cost

Server virtualization can make an enterprise really see green—and not just via the technology’s impressive energy savings. Significant cost savings can be achieved by reducing server numbers, maintenance and floor space as well.

A major hardware manufacturer compared the cost of maintaining an infrastructure of 20 physical servers with the cost required to consolidate the same environment with three servers running 20 virtual machines.

The company found that over a three-year period, a firm deploying a completely physical environment would have to spend an average of $57,640 on new servers, plus $8,000 in provisioning costs and around $48,000 in power and cooling charges.

Conversely, an organization that consolidated through virtualization would spend $25,566 on the new servers, $1,500 on virtualization software, $800 on provisioning and $20,000 on power and cooling over the same three-year period.

The end result? The firm that chose server virtualization would pocket $65,774 over three years. While not part of the study, additional cost savings can likely be gleaned via reduced labor hours due to less time required for server deployment, maintenance and refresh.

How VMware Fits In

VMware vSphere is the industry’s most reliable and trusted virtualization platform for enterprises and small and midsize businesses. Use it to turn your data center into a secure private cloud—without wasting your current technology investments. From there, VMware makes it easy to build a bridge to your choice of public clouds. The result is hybrid cloud computing that adapts to your needs so that you can get the most from your applications.

Benefits of Virtualization

Growth in virtualization continues to reshape the data center landscape by
consolidating servers, boosting utilization and improving manageability.

Virtualization can be a solution to:
  • Low server utilization
  • Complex server/storage migration
  • Inefficient server deployment
  • High-availability/disaster recovery complexity
  • Power and cooling costs
“Perhaps the biggest benefit of our virtualization
implementation is the boost it has given to business agility.”
- Rob Krepps, Source Interlink, Group Vice President, Corporate IT

How Server Virtualization…

Smead Manufacturing saves with Server Virtualization

Following an internal audit, Albert Lui, CTO of Smead Manufacturing in Hastings, Minn., discovered that 85 percent of the company’s servers were underutilized—running at an average of only 15- to 20-percent capacity.

The analysis allowed Lui to make a business case for server virtualization. By consolidating underutilized servers into virtual machines, the company could effectively increase server utilization, support multiple applications on unused server capacity with fewer machines, defer capital expenses on new servers and reduce operational costs.

The direct cost savings and tangible benefits the firm is realizing through server virtualization and the resulting consolidation are:

Incremental Savings

  • CAPEX: Approximately $915,000 in commodity servers (within the first four or five months)
  • OPEX: Approximately $3,000 (per year)
  • Energy savings: Dropped 10kVA (over 12 months)
  • $3.2 million over the next five years (based on business expansion and application requirements)
  • Project came in under budget by $380,000

Incremental Efficiencies

  • Virtualized disaster recovery site
  • Recovery process is streamlined and faster to implement
  • Recovery site serves to facilitate application development
  • Can provision new server in 15 to 20 minutes (previously took an entire day)

Note: The use of a storage area network (SAN), combined with server virtualization, will likely result in even greater cost savings and efficiencies.

Increased Server Utilization: 5-15% to 60-80% and Consolidated Hardware: 206 Servers down to 107 servers

Can Benefit You

  • Consolidate underutilized resources to reduce waste
  • Eliminate pockets or islands of dedicated technologies
  • Move legacy applications or operating systems to newer technology
  • Increase effectiveness of newer and faster servers
  • Avoid resource shortages or lost productivity for applications
  • Enhance high availability, business continuity, disaster recovery and application load balancing
  • Ensure faster mean time to provision servers for application use
  • Improve energy efficiency and support for other green IT objectives
  • Provide a pathway to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) initiatives
  • Create a stepping stone to public and private cloud computing

Can Help You Succeed

The benefits of server virtualization have been proven. But as with every IT project, there is a right way and a wrong way to approach it. Here are some tips to make sure you are moving in the right direction:

  • It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. Create a long-term roadmap for server virtualization in the infrastructure. In addition, strategically plan out a path so investments have maximum impact. And as workloads change, be prepared to reconfigure virtual servers.
  • Just because servers are virtualized doesn’t automatically guarantee getting the most out of servers and apps. Even after implementing virtualization, maximizing the environment means effectively managing server performance and capacity.
  • Understand current workloads and their performance and capacity needs, and use available tools to predict future workloads. Understanding which are your most mission-critical workloads and the cyclic needs of specific applications can help with better decision making.
  • Before virtualizing anything, work through process detail and empower those with authority to add or change workloads. Without this plan in place, it’s all too easy to add new virtual machines too quickly, creating a new set of problems to replace the old set.
  • Pair complementary applications together on a virtual server. For example, several memory-intensive servers probably don’t belong on the same virtual machine. Instead, consider pairing a processor-intensive application with a memory-intensive application, which helps avoid bottlenecks.

Beyond Virtualization

Virtualizing IT is not a set-and-forget exercise.
CDW will help you create a long-term roadmap for
server virtualization in the infrastructure. As workloads
change, be prepared to reconfigure virtual servers.

Read the whitepaper on Server and Client Virtualization. »
Read the Interlink Case Study. »
“If we did it ourselves, it would have been more costly and
probably not as flexible, scalable and secure.”
- Sandro D'Amicone, Tarkett North America VP of Customer Experience and IT

Only about 25 percent of the available processing power of virtualized servers is being utilized by many companies that adopt virtualization, says Gartner analyst David Cappuccio. “Easily more than half of the clients we talk with have this situation,” he says. In fact, utilization numbers should be way higher—up around 55 to 60 percent—to gain the true economies of running virtualized applications, according
to Cappuccio.

Webinar—Data Center for the Future

What do you do beyond virtualization? Where do you start to prepare your data center of the future? Data center and market experts Howard Weiss and Michael Krieger will share some of the latest research on private and public clouds. Watch the webinar »

The Ramp-Up to Cloud Services

There aren’t any easy formulas to help organizations determine the total cost of ownership
(TCO) for new cloud projects. Instead, IT managers must spend time researching their
expenses for current IT operations and comparing that information with comparable cost data
for launching and maintaining a cloud environment. Here are two helpful starting points:

1. Profile the existing environment.

This requires combing through invoices and budgets for capital and operations spending that documents hardware investments and fees for software licenses. Next, fold in related expenses for IT personnel, service and support activities, upgrades, and routine maintenance.

Also factor in facilities costs, including power and cooling. Finally, estimate the unnecessary capital and operational expenses associated with underutilized or excess resources common to traditional IT environments. Don’t ignore downtime associated with upgrades and routine maintenance or the opportunities lost because of delays in adopting technology innovations.

2. Gather similar statistics for the proposed cloud project.

Subscription rates for a public or hybrid cloud solution can come from a service provider’s proposal or industry estimates available from market research firms.

But don’t ignore hidden costs that exist for cloud services. Evaluate investments for hardware upgrades and any virtualization work. Finally, estimate how the switchover to a services model and the resulting cultural changes will affect staff productivity.

It may take time for a multiyear cloud plan to present a clear cost advantage over the current environment. But organizations ready for a long-term commitment will see the numbers move in their favor through more efficient operations, increased productivity and greater agility.

The Private Cloud

Design Checklist

If all of this cloud questioning indicates that your enterprise is indeed ready to launch a private cloud, it’s time to examine the existing infrastructure in detail. Most organizations might find that they have some cloud building blocks in place, yet fall short in other areas.

Therefore, your focus on design and development efforts will vary depending on where your organization stands on each of the following pre-cloud technology requirements:

  • Consolidated infrastructure: The more streamlined the systems operation, the easier it is for IT administrators to manage and optimize cloud service delivery and application performance. The IT department can accomplish streamlining in these areas by consolidating server hardware with chassis filled with blade servers, deploying storage area networks (SANs) and boosting network bandwidth by migrating to 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10 Gig-E) network links.

  • Dynamic resource pooling: Many organizations rely on virtualization as the foundation for resource sharing in private clouds. Virtualization is a cloud-enabling technology because it abstracts and aggregates data center resources, turning them into logical pools shared among users. For example, in a highly virtualized data center, a workload could easily move from virtual machines to virtualized storage should the need arise.

    Virtualization may be a go-to technology for dynamic resource pooling, but it’s not the only choice. Other options include using products that enable rapid reprovisioning or high-performance computing clusters in which excess capacity provides the underpinnings for the pools.

  • Resource management: Automation is the watchword when it comes to managing resources in a fully functioning private cloud. Because of this, IT managers should work to replace any manual processes that they currently use to orchestrate resource assignments whenever new service requests materialize. The goal is to have automated processes available for mapping virtual-to-physical resources and for helping resource managers gather and deploy operating system and application images, as well as storage and network resources.

Build With Care

With design goals in place, building out the private cloud is the next step. In some cases, IT departments will craft their cloud from scratch using new technology acquired specifically for the project. Today, if organizations take that route, there are “cloud in a box” solutions that offer pre-integrated and tested hardware and software bundled with cloud components, such as self-service portals, cost allocation engines and tools for automated resource management. From-scratch clouds avoid the integration hassles inherent in weaving together mismatched legacy products, but they’re not always practical given real-world constraints. It’s more likely that IT managers will find themselves using legacy infrastructure as a foundation for their private cloud. There are advantages.

Your organization can build the cloud gradually by expanding virtualization, then introducing dynamic resource pooling, automated resource management, a self-service interface and usage-based billing as time and resources permit. This offers benefits by methodically bringing technical staff and users up to speed with cloud environments and their ability to improve IT agility and boost efficiency. But building a private cloud infrastructure, even slowly, is a considerable challenge. IT administrators will need to address a variety of factors, ranging from legacy applications and infrastructures to scalability practices and budgets.

Management Guidelines

Like any complex IT installation, private clouds require ongoing post-deployment management and maintenance. Organizations need to cultivate a holistic, end-to-end view of the IT environment, including the private cloud infrastructure. Cloud management tools present a single view for monitoring and assessing performance of physical and virtual machines as well as multi-tiered applications and services. These tools should span both the traditional physical components and virtual environments, and as appropriate reach into the public cloud, too.

IT organizations that have instituted or are planning to use chargeback mechanisms for their private cloud services should look for tools that provide real-time usage metering. The more automated this capability, the easier it will be to implement. Besides understanding management requirements and picking the most appropriate tools for these needs, IT managers can ease cloud management burdens by simplifying and optimizing their self-service catalogs. A service catalog, providing services uniquely suited to the users’ needs, should be built upon interchangeable resources for maximum flexibility. The IT team also will need to develop an understanding of how users will consume the services.

A goal of continuous improvement should underpin private cloud management practices. To achieve this, the IT staff should constantly assess the performance of the enterprise’s processes, resource consumption rates and usage trends. Doing so dovetails with one of the primary benefits of a private cloud infrastructure: the ability to adapt quickly to changing requirements. An informed awareness of how the cloud operates, coupled with a solid understanding of end-user needs, will position the cloud as an invaluable resource for your organization.

Private Cloud Gotchas

Private clouds aren’t for everyone. Here are some considerations before making a move:

  • Network connections: The weak link in cloud performance is the reliability of network and Internet connections (for hybrid clouds). Any interruption in these pipelines can bring operations to a standstill. High-speed network (think 10-Gigabit Ethernet) and broadband Internet connections are a must.

  • Data management: Data sets may be so large that they overburden available bandwidth on some network segments. IT shops considering migrating applications with large data sets to the cloud need to guard against such performance degradation issues. One answer: Move end-user clients into the cloud.

  • IT expertise: Private clouds need the support of IT talent that’s well versed in virtualization and cloud concepts, such as IT service delivery and multi-tenancy. Hiring these workers and keeping their skills tuned can be expensive.

  • Security: Keeping IT resources within the confines of a private cloud may sound preferable to sending sensitive data out to a public cloud, but risks remain. Increasingly sophisticated hacking techniques require enterprises to continually invest in personnel and technology to protect their digital assets—a requirement that can be mitigated by finding an outside cloud provider with a staff of security specialists.

How We Do IT

At CDW, we provide a team of virtualization experts who have years of experience designing and deploying virtualization solutions. We work with you on an individual basis, learn your unique needs and customize a plan based on your priorities, budget and resources. Combine this with VMware’s market-leading technology, and our customers get the right technology and the right plan that fits their unique needs.


With VMware, you get continuity protection from the industry’s leading virtualization and management platform. End users get secured access to e-mail and desktop from any device, while policy-based automation keeps IT management simple. We can help you:

  • Protect your business with built-in business continuity and security features
  • Simplify your IT and save money, so you can stay business-focused
  • Empower your employees with flexible, anywhere accessibility to business applications
Learn more about VMware »