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Server hardware cost comparison: Is virtualization cheaper?

(Logan G. Harbaugh, TechTarget) It seems to be assumed that running eight OSes on a single large server with a virtualization suite is cheaper than running eight separate physical servers. Leaving aside for the moment the cost of virtualization software, training admins to use the software and so forth, let's look specifically at the cost of the hardware.

Eight 1U dual-core servers with 4 GB RAM, one or two built-in Ethernet ports and 70 to 150 GB of hard disk space can be found quite inexpensively these days, with even more savings if you don't insist on a first-tier server manufacturer. On the other hand, a 16-core server with 32 GB of RAM, several four-port Ethernet cards and a terabyte or two of disk space can cost considerably more than eight dual-core servers. A quick check of a major brand site produced numbers of $1,339 each for the small servers, or $10,172 total, versus $45,196 for a single big server. If the servers are running mission-critical apps and you want failover capacity, you'll need two big servers for $90,392, rather than nine small ones for $11,511.

If you do need failover, you'll need premium virtualization software in addition to the failover software, which is a considerable expense. With hardware and software factored in, eight virtual servers could be $30,000 to $50,000 more expensive. On the other side of the balance sheet, a virtualized infrastructure can be more flexible and easier to administer, since all eight virtual servers, backups, and failover can be managed from a single console.

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