Universities find the virtualization ‘sweet spot’

Server virtualization has become a primary energy-saving strategy for campus technology departments.

There hasn’t been much opposition to ridding college campuses of clunky, energy-guzzling server racks, campus technology chiefs say, although creating virtual servers could result in an unwieldy mess if ed-tech staff aren’t careful.

Colleges and universities, like much of the private sector, have gravitated toward virtual servers in recent years—a move that lets campus technology officials clear the piles of servers that collect over time, cut down on electricity use, and satisfy faculty requests for more servers in less time.

The largest research universities and small private colleges alike have gone virtual with their campus’s servers, meaning the machinery is managed in a distant data center, for example.

In fact, server virtualization was the most common strategy for improving colleges’ energy efficiency, according to CDW-Government’s 2010 Energy Efficient IT Report, a survey that tracks the latest in money-saving campus technology strategies. Sixty-three percent of higher-education respondents said they had moved to virtual servers to save on electricity bills, according to the report.

The list of pros for server virtualization is lengthy, campus technology officials say, but virtualization “sprawl”—creating an army of virtual servers—remains a con that colleges should be wary of.

Denny Carter

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