For some companies, virtualization is a fit for one part of the operation but not another. Todd Slan, director of technology for Total Wine & More, based in Potomac, Md., says the retailer has no intention of virtualizing the single server running in each of its 65 stores. But server virtualization has been a significant component of Total Wine's corporate IT environment since 2005, when rapid growth was forcing Slan's team to add a server every time it was asked to deploy a new application or service.
With no commercial software product built specifically to help wine retailers manage their supply chains, inventories or budget forecasts, Slan knew that Total Wine's application development operation would need additional resources to keep up with the demands of supporting six or seven new stores each year. In response, the company added Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization software, bringing a rapid end to hardware proliferation that had seen Total Wine's server count reach 125.
By virtualizing all the servers in the retailer's two data centers--a primary one at the company's headquarters in Potomac, and a secondary facility in Tucson, Ariz.--Slan accommodated two business needs: "We were able to double the number of stores and leave our data center footprint exactly where it was," he says. "That wouldn't have been possible without virtualizing our servers."
What's more, by virtualizing its data centers, Total Wine doubled its server utilization rates to nearly 90 percent. That, in turn, has helped the company serve its consumers.
"You can't offer the lowest prices in the business unless you optimize your costs," says Slan. "If you use 50 percent of a resource, that's not optimizing."