Open source virtualization software excels in these areas. It gives IT teams exactly what they need for a fraction of the cost. It may be an SUV instead of a sports car, but it provides much better cost mileage.

Standards, but no limits

That same liberal arts college found that its original deployment limited its ability to flexibly deploy virtualized resources. It was difficult to add resources as needed, because they were required to adhere to strict vendor licensing guidelines or ran the risk of exceeding licensing use limits. They were committed to doing things the vendor’s way, rather than the college’s way.

When they turned to open source, they found it easy to integrate their virtualization tools with the rest of their IT infrastructure. They were no longer locked into specific solutions. They were using a technology based on open standards, ready to use with other technologies and operating systems.

A big open community

The benefits of open source virtualization

The open source development community is the driving force behind the software’s flexibility and innovations. Thousands of contributors around the world are working to develop new features, discover and patch flaws, and more. Open source developers have the ability to be more nimble than a small team of enterprise developers. They don’t need to adhere to a company’s static release cycle; rather, they can develop and innovate at their own pace. IT teams within colleges and universities can choose from the latest innovations to offer timely solutions and easily scale to meet the demands of students and faculty.

A last check-in with the liberal arts college sums up the benefits of open source virtualization software. That college has expanded its operation to several hundred servers, with the option of expanding or scaling back as necessary to accommodate peak traffic volume, particularly during busy times of the year (such as enrollment periods). At the same time, the organization’s datacenter and its associated costs decreased.

It should not take much for other schools to follow their lead. Certainly, there is minimal financial commitment; open source software is free to use, though campus IT teams may wish to consider partnering with companies that offer enterprise-ready solutions and support for nominal fees. Unlike proprietary software, there is also no need for a lengthy procurement process, though schools may need to adhere to certain guidelines and regulations pertaining to their software acquisitions, just like they would with any other tool.

Overall, the bar to clear is low compared with proprietary solutions, while the potential ROI is high. Those who jump over that bar will find themselves ahead of the curve—technologically, financially, and educationally.

About the Author:

Bill Hirsch has been working in IT for 20+ years as a Linux/Unix systems administrator, enterprise architect, and—prior to joining Red Hat—served as a director of infrastructure at a healthcare provider in Pittsburgh, Penn. In his current role as a senior solutions architect, Hirsch works with customers across the northeast and serves as the public sector SME on Red Hat Insights.

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