Is Virtualisation Always The Answer For Small Businesses?

server virtualisation

photo credit: William J Sisti

Server virtualisation is one of the most popular technological trends among small businesses today, but it’s not right for everyone. We’re here to explain exactly what server virtualisation is and the pros and cons of it, helping you to decide whether it’s right for your business.

What Is Server Virtualisation?

Servers have previously been dedicated to one specific task or application – one server per application. However, as the processing power of modern machines increases, many companies are turning to server virtualisation, a process that converts one physical server into multiple virtual servers through a piece of kit called a “hypervisor”. The hardware is known as the “host”, while the various virtual servers that run on the physical server are called “guests”.

What Are The Advantages Of Server Virtualisation?

Server virtualisation is particularly popular with small businesses because, in theory, it allows them to get more out of the limited resources they have. Since modern servers have greater processing power than ever before, using them for only one application can be wasteful and results in a large excess capacity. Using one server for multiple purposes gets the most out of what you’ve got.

In turn, this saves businesses both money and space. It saves them money because they’re using less electricity and don’t have to spend money on having numerous servers, while only having one physical server makes for more floor space. If your company does any software development work, virtualisation gives them the opportunity to lower costs by eliminating the need to fork out money for additional hardware.

Server virtualisation also aids business continuity, through a developing feature called “live migration” that removes the need for downtime. Live migration is the process of moving a running virtual machine between different physical machines without disconnecting the client or application. It therefore facilitates server maintenance or hardware upgrading without the need to schedule any maintenance downtime.

Another process that server virtualisation simplifies is disaster recovery. It’s far easier to back up a fully virtualised server than doing the same with disparate hardware servers, although on the other hand, having a single piece of hardware on which all your applications are running can be risky if a major fault does occur. With the money that server virtualisation saves, it may be a good idea for small businesses to buy a few emergency servers to be housed at an alternative location and deployed in the event of a disaster.

Is Server Virtualisation Right For Me?

To summarise the previous section, it’s clear that server virtualisation can make your business run a lot more efficiently, in more ways than one. However, it’s not suitable for everyone. For very small businesses with only a handful of servers, it is not worth the costs of buying new equipment and hiring the skilled people to install it. Experts reckon that server virtualisation makes sense when you have at least seven or eight servers.

Meanwhile, for servers that are dedicated to applications that demand high processing power, it is not wise to divide the physical server’s processing power up. If a server cannot meet an application’s demands, then everything slows down.

With these limitations in mind, it’s worth reviewing your company’s individual server usage before deciding on whether to implement server virtualisation. The benefits are clear to see, though, and it certainly appears that server virtualisation is the future of storage. If you’ve had any experience of the process, or would like to elaborate on the points made, feel free to comment!

About the Author: Joseph is an experienced blogger who has written on similar topics before, such as Search Engine Optimisation and Customer Relationship Management software. He recommends Hardware.  

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