Virtualization, which most commonly refers to server virtualization, has often been thought of as an expensive, complicated endeavor reserved for the largest corporations with huge data centers, an abundance of IT personnel and incredibly deep pockets. This may have been the case at one time, but not anymore.
In fact, according to the Spiceworks State of SMB IT Report from May 2013, 72 percent of small to midsize businesses (SMBs) are using server virtualization, while 80 percent expect to before the end of the year. There are good reasons why everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.
What is virtualization and how does it work?
Virtualization enables one physical server to be divided into multiple virtual servers. Each of these virtual servers operates as a unique device capable of running different operating systems and handling different workloads and applications. This enables organizations to fully leverage existing hardware and software rather than deploying a separate physical server for each application.
In this environment, hypervisor software allows virtual servers to remain isolated and unaware of each other. The hypervisor monitors the resources of the physical server and allocates resources to virtual servers.
What are the benefits of virtualization for small business?
The benefits are rather obvious for large enterprises that consolidate thousands of servers in a virtualized environment. However, the benefits to small business can be just as significant.
- Reduced capital expenses. A simplified physical IT infrastructure means less hardware needs to be purchased, installed and deployed, drastically reducing the cost of adding new applications and services.
- Reduced complexity and operational costs. A simplified physical architecture is easier and less expensive to manage, maintain and secure when the right tools are deployed. You can focus less on hardware and more on the services and applications that improve business operations. Less hardware also translates to significantly lower energy and cooling costs.
- Centralized management. Both physical and virtual servers can be centrally managed, monitored and controlled from a single console. Existing virtual machines (VMs) can be moved from server to server, allowing for resource sharing and workload tracking.
- Improved disaster recovery and business continuity. Copies of virtual servers can be saved and archived as files or snapshots at a remote site for disaster recovery and accessed with minimal downtime. This creates redundancy without the need for additional hardware. Live migration preserves business continuity by transferring live VMs between physical servers without requiring downtime for maintenance.
- Availability of legacy apps. Instead of maintaining outdated server hardware to run legacy apps, a virtual version of existing hardware can be created on modern servers. The legacy apps perform the same way on the new server, giving you time to update the apps if necessary.
- Simple testing of software updates and security patches. Virtualization enables an organization to test software and security solutions on a virtual copy of their IT infrastructure. This allows you to work out as many bugs as possible before deploying new software on your live system.
- Support for internal services. If you want to set up a platform, such as a company intranet, for internal use, virtualization allows you to do so on a VM instead of purchasing new hardware.
Virtualization can provide significant cost savings and operational benefits to SMBs, allowing you to take full advantage of a streamlined IT infrastructure. Contact us to learn more about how virtualization can be a game changer for your business.