Virtualization is defined as "the use of software to run multiple applications at the same time on a single piece of hardware."
Enterprise adoption of virtualization has skyrocketed, with more than 90 percent of organizations using virtualization to support enterprise applications. Unified communications applications, however, with their dependence on high-performance networks, high-speed servers and low tolerance for latency, have challenged virtualization.
Virtualization and server technology have, however, advanced to the point that every major UC vendor supports application virtualization including call control, contact center and messaging – albeit on different virtualization technologies and server platforms.
Why Virtualize UC Applications?
For the same reasons that an enterprise virtualizes servers and applications.
· A virtualized UC infrastructure lowers capex by reducing total server count, consolidating storage, reducing network ports and cabling requirements.
· Opex costs are lowered through reduced rack and floor space, reduced power and cooling requirements. And there’s a reduction in maintenance and support costs since there are fewer servers to manage.
· Significant efficiency in BC/ DR planning is realized, as the need for separate back and recovery plans for the UC network is eliminated as the infrastructure is located in an organization’s data center.
· There also is improved business continuity. For example, organizations as a result have the ability to quickly move virtual machines in the event of a hardware failure.
Virtualization of UC applications can be the first step for customers considering a virtual desktop initiative. UC vendors have solved the problem of having to transport video and voice back to the data center for encoding, thus ensuring that desktop virtualization endpoints now support real-time applications.
Top of Mind Considerations When Virtualizing UC
An organization’s IT support staff must have the skills to understand and manage your virtualization software. It is crucial that server, network and storage teams collaborate to ensure a successful implementation. UC vendors have application-specific server hardware, virtualization software and storage requirements. It is important to evaluate vendor solutions requirements and ensure in-house expertise prior to making a UC virtualization decision.
Jeremy Chapman is practice manager for unified communications at Forsythe (www.forsythe.com).
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Edited by Stefania Viscusi