Far from being passe, virtualization is still a vital concern among IT professionals these days. While there are many instances of carriers that have virtualized everything from their desktops to their servers to their entire office staff, there are just as many insurers, if not more, still holding back on some level. And while their reasons for abstaining are no doubt legitimate, maybe carriers should reassess whether the risk/reward ratio has changed.

There are a number of different ways virtualization is currently being employed in the insurance industry, with server virtualization probably the biggest technology trend of the last few years, according to Andrew Reichman, senior analyst with Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass. Server sprawl, he believes, is a major issue for most insurers, with each department and application team deploying new services and, generally, doing it with physical servers. As a result, there's little ability to keep track of all the servers, with many having low-utilization of CPU, cache or disk space that might be on board. Additionally, the mix is difficult to manage, inefficient and costly, says Reichman.

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