This week, while involved in a technology consulting engagement, I was reminded that virtualization is not for everyone, no matter the benefits. There always has to be a business reason to move ahead with any technology project; virtualization isn't an exception to this core rule. In this case, I was visiting with a small private college that has a very, very small IT staff, just a couple of servers and that has been for years involved in a consortium that handles most of their administrative database work, hence the lack of on-site servers and personnel. For this institution – with the exception of introducing virtualization into the technology curriculum – I would be very hard pressed to see the return on investment of a virtualization environment and believe that it would introduce complexity that, given current workload, would be an extremely difficult technology for the existing staff to absorb.
Intuitively, I realize that the ROI has to be there for virtualization projects. However, most organizations can show demonstrable ROI on these projects, particularly when coupled with other business benefits, so virtualization might be pushed through without a real ROI analysis being done. My work this week was a reminder of how important it is to understand how important it is that the technology benefits the business and that technology projects are not undertaken just for the sake of the technology.