Small Business Server Virtualization
Server virtualization is the partitioning of a physical server into smaller virtual servers. In server virtualization the resources of the server itself are hidden, or masked, from users, and software is used to divide the physical server into multiple virtual environments, called virtual or private servers.
Server virtualization is really all about gaining more from what you have. It allows companies to make one server act as five, ten or even twenty virtual servers. The need to do so has become more apparent as processors have become far more powerful in recent years.
In this Small Business Computing Guide to Virtualization, Drew Robb explains what virtualization is, the associated benefits and drawbacks, whether it makes financial sense, and which small businesses should go for it (or give it a pass).
The Benefits of Small Business Server Virtualization
Small businesses benefit from server virtualization by not having to buy more servers. Another plus is consolidating many physical servers onto one. This means that some small businesses can dispense with several of their existing machines and load everything onto one server -- or move from 20 physical servers down to a few. This means less time spent on maintenance and less money spent on powering multiple servers.
According to a recent survey by CDW, 25 percent of small businesses have virtualized at least some of their servers. Among small businesses that have not yet implemented server virtualization, 73 percent report they are investigating or planning to deploy the technology.
"Two-thirds of small businesses that have virtualized their server environments say doing so has significantly increased the return on investment of their IT -- but virtualization also requires new skills and knowledge to manage effectively," said Jill Billhorn, CDW vice president of small business sales.
"Small businesses that have virtualized say that the top drivers for their decision to do so were replacement of aging hardware [43 percent], server consolidation [36 percent], improved backup and disaster recovery [35 percent], greater efficiency of IT infrastructure [27 percent] and reduced IT operating costs [23 percent]," said Billhorn.
Simpleview Inc., is an 85-employee firm that provides software and Web-based services for marketing organizations operating in the tourism business. What drove the company towards virtualization?
"We had several clients that were requesting that their services be isolated from the others and this was going to push our need for even more space, power and cooling," said Sean Smith, director of network operations at Simpleview. "So we really were primed for the opportunity of virtualization."
The company has 15 primary servers and it turned them into 60 virtual servers. Smith cites benefits such as ease of server deployment, the capability to upgrade or downgrade server components -- such as memory, hard drives and processing power -- at will and needing less floor space.
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