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If you’ve already wrapped your head around transparency, it won’t be too hard to grasp virtualization. Just reverse the process. Transparent describes a tangible object that’s invisible in use; virtual describes an intangible object that’s visible in use.

And even if you never thought about virtualization much before, you probably will soon. Industry analysts say virtualization is one of the top technologies that CIOs will invest in this year, especially at firms interested in reducing real estate costs.

According to research from Hewlett-Packard Development Co. and Palo Alto, CA-based Vmware Inc., virtualization reduces the cost of both hardware acquisition and data center real estate costs. Moving to a virtual environment reduces the number of physical servers necessary to support a company’s infrastructure. And that can result in smaller data centers or at least minimize the need to expand existing ones.

“With building costs ranging from $800 per sf to a projected $5,000 per sf n 2009, this is a very important area for cost savings, especially when one considers that each rack of servers or storage requires approximately seven sf,” the companies state in a jointly prepared white paper.

But how do companies make the transition? When it comes to migrating physical servers to virtual machines, many IT pros argue that getting there is not half the fun. Too often, they report, the conversion process is frustrating, confusing and time-consuming.

To that end, Vizioncore , a Buffalo Grove, IL-based developer of software for virtual environments, came up with 10 tips for successful server migration. Here are the highlights:

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