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Providing Members with the Resources They Need at a Lower Cost

Virtualization has quickly become a catalyst for lowering the amount of time and capital spent on IT needs. Organizations can now start their virtualization journey and expand their assets with the hardware they already own by consolidating virtual servers onto fewer physical servers, thus saving them money on operational and maintenance costs.

Virtualized data centers require less direct input on servers, cabinets, air conditioners and UPS powers, yet they can run multiple operating systems simultaneously and more effectively than their physical counterparts. Virtual servers can also be provisioned more quickly and efficiently, which decreases downtime and provides increased flexibility.

Greener Computing recently published an article describing how much time and money companies can save through virtualization. Jim Rupert, Boeing’s enterprise technical architect, said, “Previously, it could take up to three months to provision and install a new server in the data center. With the development of a private cloud for the firm’s infrastructure, servers will be provisioned within minutes.”

Novartis Healthcare’s Lead Architect in Infrastructure Juergen Basse-Welker said, “Ten to 15 percent of…savings will come from better usage of hardware and the rest from improved operations.”

While large companies like Boeing and Novartis stand to save billions of dollars through virtualization, smaller organizations can also greatly benefit from virtualized environments. Organizations in the state of Michigan are currently using virtualized servers to store everything from student information to library catalogs, and depend on them for business continuity and disaster recovery services. Reducing the potential for physical damage can keep organizations like schools and libraries from losing data or having to spend thousands of dollars on data center repairs.

On top of the time and monetary benefits of virtualization, services like virtual data centers and cloud storage systems can reduce an organization’s carbon footprint, creating a greener IT environment. By reducing the amount of energy spent running unnecessary hardware servers, organizations reduce the amount of harmful emissions they release into the environment.

Paul Dickinson, Executive Chairman of the Carbon Disclosure Project, said, “The economic and environmental benefits [of virtualization] are so clear and the desire of increased profits and reduced emissions is so strong that there is no alternative. It’s just a great solution, not just for this year but for the next decade or two.”

Virtualization has transitioned from being an innovation that was once optional to being a business practice that is necessary. Therefore, organizations have begun investing in the appropriate software, for which VMware is ideal.

MeritLicensing Helps Members Consolidate and Save

According to a recent Gartner, Inc. research study, “The number of installed server VMs and containers has nearly doubled in the past year as competition improves, virtualization adoption expands, the midmarket heats up, desktop virtualization drives more workloads to servers and workloads are deployed by cloud computing providers.”

Licensing enables organizations to begin or further their virtualization journey, allowing them to save time, money and energy while better securing their mission critical data. Educational and Governmental Members can purchase the software necessary for virtualization through the MeritLicensing-VMware Program at a significantly discounted rate. Merit understands that individual licensing agreements can be burdensome, so licenses have been pre-negotiated with VMware in a way that is in the best interest of the education, state and local government community in Michigan. Non-Merit Members can also benefit through a nominal Basic Membership that is applied at the time of purchase.

Behind the MeritLicensing-VMware Program

The concept of a MeritLicensing program began when VMware approached Merit in the hope of starting an educational licensing program in Michigan. OARNet, the state network in Ohio, was the first state network to be successful in creating and implementing a licensing program for its members through VMware. In the first 18 months of the program, the partnership saved OARNet members a compelling amount of money.

Mary Shindell, Program Manager for Merit Network, said, “VMware has traditionally looked at what they call the ‘SLED Market’: state, local and education IT spending institutions. In an effort to more deeply penetrate those markets, they started reaching out to state networks. Based on the success of the program in Ohio and the savings provided to their Members, we started to seriously consider their offer for an enterprise license agreement with Merit.”

The licensing program was also appealing to Merit because of the value it would add to the Merit Membership. Virtualization would be made easier and more cost-efficient for Members through the program’s cost savings, pre-negotiated terms and customer support.

When Merit went to its Board of Directors with the idea for MeritLicensing, there was an overwhelming interest in the prospective service. After months of negotiations, Merit and VMware signed an agreement on March 30th, 2010 that now provides great benefits for Merit Members.

Among the first organizations to buy licenses were Michigan Technological University, Washtenaw Community College, Fowlerville Community Schools and Western Michigan University. Today there are over 100 Members using Merit’s licensing program, 40 of which decided to become Merit Members because of their positive experience with the licensing service. The new Members include 16 K12 organizations, 18 local governments, and 5 higher education institutions.

Benefits of MeritLicensing

MeritLicensing brings significant cost savings and convenience to the Merit community.

“Because of the volume of Members we have, we were able to get a better educational discount rate from VMware,” said Elwood Downing, vice president of member relations, communications and services at Merit Network.

The MeritLicensing program saves Merit Members an average of 40-50% on their overall licensing costs. Additionally, it saves users 15-20% on support costs per year, allowing them to leverage their resources and funding. One of the most popular MeritLicensing-VMware products has been the vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus, followed by vCenter Site Recovery Manager and the View Premier Starter Kit. Between March 2010 to June 2011, Members have saved approximately $320,000 on vSphere software and $77,000 the View Premier software, which totals to about $400,000 in savings for just two licenses alone.

As the intermediary between its Members and VMware, Merit negotiates with VMware on which licenses are under contract, and when Members renew their Services and Support (SnS). This continues to save Merit Members considerable time from negotiating individual end-user license agreements (ELA). Participating Members have access to VMware’s support system twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week throughout their licensing term.

Merit offers a range of professional services and customer training programs to help Members with the installation and execution of their products. Merit Professional Learning courses give Members VMware instruction at a lower cost while preparing them for the VMware Certified Professional exam. The first two VMware VSphere classes scheduled for this fall are already sold out, which means Merit Members are embracing the benefits of virtualization.