Auto Trader has said it is saving £100,000 a year through a "simple" web server virtualisation programme using VMware.

The used car sales website, which was born out of the magazine, spent approximately £80,000 on VMware licences to virtualise 200 web servers onto 25 blades, in a project begun in 2007. The project was conducted ahead of larger plans to virtualise the company's database servers.

Carolyn Bell, head of IT at the company, told delegates at today's Storage Expo event in London: "We had to look at virtualising, because data on our web servers was growing 45 per cent annually. We were just adding new servers and we constantly faced problems with space, power and cooling."

Ahead of the project, Auto Trader, which uses Red Hat and Oracle infrastructure extensively, conducted a "sizing exercise" to ascertain where the most benefits could be gained by virtualising web servers. It looked at each server's levels of usage and which servers were redundant.

The new virtualised environment does present its own challenges, Bell said, with an "extra demand" on management. Nevertheless, she said it also opened new opportunities: "We can more easily deploy development and test environments, which is very useful."

Meanwhile, Auto Trader is weighing up desktop virtualisation, but has not chosen a supplier. It is also considering use of some cloud services, Bell said, because "we want to reduce our datacentre costs".

Auto Trader is part of the Guardian Media Group, read the CIO interview with Guardian Media Group COO here.