Virtualization: Potentially extending the life of old, mission-critical software By: Roger Van Houtan

Businesses often find themselves balancing the need to update software and hardware with the need to control costs. All too often, many businesses err to the side of controlling IT spend to the point that they find themselves stuck running old software on out of date hardware and end up in a no man's land where upgrades or migration are at best, a logistical and financial challenge. In other cases, the failure to upgrade ties the business to software that cannot run on new systems or is no longer in production, so updates are unavailable. If you find your company in this situation, you are not alone, but you are vulnerable and burying your head in the sand will not make the problem go away.

Recently a customer came to me with a similar problem. He had an old server running a critical application and the server was not preforming the way it should, hard drives were getting old and had started to fail. Worried about the application, which he could not install on another computer and could not afford the loss in production if the server had a catastrophic failure, he was at a loss as to what to do.

I asked him if I could run his server on brand new hardware without having to reinstall his critical application and with minimal down time would he be interested.

Of course, he said yes, and I explained to him that this is the basics of virtualization. We started to develop a project plan specifying the hardware he needed. We did an inventory of his current servers and found that most were approaching their end of life. Given the power of today's new servers we were not limited to hosting just one server on the new hardware, but we could host all of his current servers while improving performance across the board.

The end result was that by investing in new server hardware he was able to upgrade his server's hardware to current standards, get the manufacturer's onsite hardware warranty, improve uptime, reduce power/cooling costs, and most importantly keep his critical systems running without business downtime.

Now the customer has more options. He can now stand up a new virtual server without purchasing any more hardware. He can also add another physical server and external storage giiving him the potential for High Availability and Fail Over. With the external storage we can easily expand the storage as needed so, that as his data grows, he does not run out of space.

So, remember when you think you are out of options, virtualization may be the lifeline to keep your systems up and running dependably.

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