Virtualization helps locals cut IT costs
With local and state governments looking to reduce costs and improve productivity, many IT managers are turning to virtualization — the division of a server into several subsystems. The recently released “2010 Government Virtualization Report” from Vernon Hills, Ill.-based CDW-G confirms that while many are considering or planning to implement the technology, budgets are standing in the way of some local and state government agencies taking the next step because of staff cuts and a lack of funding for the initial investment in hardware and software.
Nearly 80 percent of the 301 local and state government respondents that participated in the report say they have implemented some form of virtualization, seeking benefits that include reduced operating and capital costs, improved use of computing resources and greater IT staff productivity. But, 82 percent say they are not using it to its fullest extent, primarily because of limited budgets and staff, according to the report. That could change within the next 18 to 24 months as new budgets come out, according to David Hutchins, CDW-G’s director of state and local government.
Of those agencies that have implemented virtualization, 89 percent say it has been successful or somewhat successful in terms of hardware cost savings, server count reduction and improved IT productivity.
Stanly County, N.C., used virtualization to create a backup data center for its 911 center, ensuring that any disaster, such as a flood, would not interrupt emergency communications. The $100,000 initiative — funded by a surcharge on phone bills — also helped lower costs by reducing the number of servers and keeping the room housing the servers cooler, says Chad Coble, IT director for Stanly County. The county now is expanding virtualization to its general network for an additional cost of $65,000, but the two projects combined are expected to save $20,000 a year.
The infrastructure and management needed for successful use of virtualization depends on the project, so Coble says officials should do their homework. “Make sure that you’re confident with the product and managing it,” he says.
Jennifer Grzeskowiak is a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based freelance writer.