This blog first appeared on Best in UC.
Is your server configuration killing your IT budget? And is there a solution for the servers that host unified communications (UC)?
At too many companies, servers run at utilization rates that hover around 10 percent. This has prompted many firms to adopt virtualization technologies, which can boost utilization to 60 percent or higher, without any decrease in service levels. That raises an important question in our industry: can virtualization be effectively used for UC?
First, let’s talk about the basics of virtualization. Many applications require that they have their own dedicated server. Virtualization is essentially a piece of software that tricks the application into thinking it is running on its own server, when it actually resides on a partitioned portion of the server.
Why undertake this strategy? Simple. When a company puts more applications onto each server, it needs to manage less hardware. Maintenance decreases. Plus, it’s easier to afford high-availability guarantees and other backup services for fewer servers.
Up until now, most applications that are put onto virtual servers are those with more flexible requirements. They may not need lightning-fast response times or be highly utilized.
Of course, UC applications are the exact opposite. On a phone call, delays are not acceptable. Downtime can quickly destroy a business. And efficiency is an absolute must.
At least one UC company, however, has devised a solution that allows UC to effectively run on a virtualized server. ShoreTel has teamed up with VMware to help companies consolidate and modernize their server infrastructure. ShoretTel software can run on VMware’s vSphere virtualization platform. That means all applications including voicemail, automated attendant, call accounting and reporting and more run in a virtualized environment.
According to VMware, companies that use its solutions can:
- Reduce capital costs by up to 60 percent
- Cut time spent on routine administration by up to one-third
- Reduce energy costs by up to 80 percent
In contrast to industry concerns about virtualization and UC, ShoreTel says that a virtualization strategy actually enhances its high levels of availability. VMware provides high availability and failover capabilities, which also improves disaster recovery strategies.
For IT managers, a virtualized version of the ShoreTel UC system is managed the same way as a typical installation, and using the same tools and processes. This is a contrast to some other UC solutions run in a virtual environment, which place different functions of the UC system on different virtual machines.