The TechNet team create useful technical content for IT Managers, and their latest project is absolutely perfect for school network managers who are considering virtualisation projects ,or are wondering if they should be considering virtualisation projects.
The reason that virtualisation is so important at the moment is that it can help you reduce the total cost of your network, as well as introducing more reliability and flexibility. In the Cost Saving examples, server virtualisation is one of the big winners for schools, with an average potential saving of over £50,000 over three years. (And there are plenty of case studies from UK schools to prove this, such as Wootton Bassett School, West Hatch School, Neville Lovett School
Lodge Park TC)
Predicting resource requirements for a new ICT application, especially one that is widely used, such as a learning platform, is a tricky task. It's hard to know the adoption curve that you'll have on your hands. You make your best estimates, then spend money on new hardware and hope your estimates were right. Only actual usage tells whether your server infrastructure is running efficiently. What may make this process more painful is the knowledge that your existing environment probably has the capacity to deliver this application if only the servers were used in a more efficient manner.
Deciding whether, and what form of, virtualisation is appropriate to your needs will require answers to a number of questions. When and where will your usage demand happen, within your organisation or from remote users and external stakeholders? Is there a predictable demand timeframe for some or all of your services? How will back-ups and data compliance be enforced, and where must your data reside to be secure while complying with local authority or national guidance?
The TechNet collection of guides will help you to plan how to accomplish your business goals with server and services virtualisation technology. It's designed to help network managers to direct their limited resources to the most efficient activities, even making changes dynamically to utilise resources as demands change during a business day or week — for example, a busy Web server during the week that lays largely unused over the weekend could be repurposed on Friday evening for large database processing jobs and returned to serving Web requests late on Sunday. (Although the scenarios below aren't education specific, the business and technology challenges parallel your own!)