Part One of a Two Part Post
Most of you have probably heard of virtualization, sometimes called a “private cloud.” Unlike many other “buzzword” technologies, virtualization is not going to fade away. For several reasons, it is going to become more and more popular. Below are several reasons that you should consider virtualization for your small or medium sized business.
Of course, this must be listed as the number one reason. Unlike many other investments in technology, virtualization can start saving money from day one of implementation. Generally, any healthy server in your server room is only using 10-20% of its resources at any given time. That’s right. The high-powered servers you hear working away are being under-utilized. Don’t believe me? Simply go to one of your servers and open the task manager. Click on the performance tab and note the CPU usage. For most servers, it will spike somewhere around 10% and many times it will stay around 1%. If you have ten servers, you are probably using the equivalent of only one of those servers’ CPUs.
Virtualization allows you to run multiple servers as virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical server (Host). So in the example of a ten server environment, it would be feasible to run all of those servers as VMs on a total of 2 or 3 Hosts. Also, the redundancy you get in a virtual server environment reduces the risk of using a server for a longer period of time. Therefore, it would make sense to increase the lifecycle of your servers to five years which increases your savings even more.
You also save money just by using fewer servers. Considering the electricity for server power and AC, it takes about five years for a server to match its price tag in electricity cost. Sometimes you can also eliminate the amount of real estate needed to host your servers by moving to virtualization. These cost savings often go unnoticed but do amount to quite a bit over the life of your servers.
Simplify Your IT Administration
Simply put, fewer servers means fewer server problems and less server maintenance. As an example, just take the task of applying patches. New threats are discovered every day. If you do not patch your servers, you put yourself in an exponential amount of risk every day. Unfortunately, some patches have side effects that cause certain server processes to fail. Virtualization solves this problem. You can simply make a snapshot of you VM, and install the patch. If there are any problems, revert to the snapshot and keep running as if you never tried the update at all. In fact, this entire process can be automated so that the updates can run late in the evening. If there are any issues in the morning, you can just roll back the update and you are back to running as normal. For mission critical servers, you can even take this a step further by cloning the VM. Now you have another copy of the VM that you can run completely outside of your network environment. You can go ahead and install patches, upgrade the software or operating system (“OS”) – or do whatever you want – without any fear.
Refreshing server hardware in a physical environment is another nightmare for IT consultants and administrators. Replacing a physical server means that the new server needs to be installed and configured to work the exact same way and then all data has to be migrated over. This rarely goes without any hiccups even for the most careful planners. In the virtual world, it is a day at the park. Simply install the new servers and configure for your virtual network. Once they are working properly, simply move your existing VMs to the new Hosts. Since these VMs can be moved while running, all of these tasks can be performed during the day without your end users even being aware of the change.
Evaluating server applications is also easier in the virtual world. Before, when your IT consultant wanted to test an application, he or she had to find an old PC or server, install the OS, install the application, and then test it out. If they liked the application, they would then have to acquire a new server and install everything all over again. In a virtual environment, new servers can be brought online with a few clicks. With the previous creation of some OS templates, you don’t even have to install the OS anymore. Your IT consultant or internal administrator can have a Windows Server up and running within ten minutes ready for testing. If you want to keep the application, just apply the appropriate licensing and you are done. If not, simply delete the VM with a few clicks. Once a major undertaking, testing has never been easier than with VM.
Watch for our next post with yet more reasons to consider virtualization for your company!