The charity was able to save money and improve server management and disaster recovery
When disability charity Scope realised it was running more that 50 different servers, it decided the time had come to look at virtualisation.
"We found we had lots of servers that were barely being used," says Conall Bullock, head of IT at the charity. "Every time we adopted a new service, we acquired a new server."
Virtualisation is the replacement of multiple physical servers with virtual spaces on a single physical server. Scope began to experiment using free virtualisation products and was impressed by a product called VMware.
"It's allowed us to drop from 50 servers down to four," says Bullock. "Before, we would have had an email server and a sequel server, which would have cost about £12,000 each. We've got it down to £10,000 for both."
There are other advantages, he says. "We are able to take down a server to manage it without disrupting services. And it's improved our disaster recovery. We can now rebuild our server structure easily anywhere in the UK."
The charity's IT staff were fully trained and adapted easily to the new regime, he says. "They were very keen to engage with the new technology. They're VMware specialists now."
Bullock says virtualisation is available at cut prices for charities on a budget, with free versions of VMware and Citrix Xen products available as well as a very cheap Microsoft offering.
"And there are new technologies that make virtualisation an even better bet: desktop virtualisation, application virtualisation and storage virtualisation - which is a very hot technology."