You’ve heard about virtualization, but what exactly is it?
Virtualization creates a virtual—rather than physical—version of a computer operating system, computer network resource, or storage device. For instance, with your computer, you can create a virtual machine that behaves like a separate physical computer. In this case, your virtual machine co-exists on the same computer as your regular operating system. With virtualization, you are using software to transform one physical computer into a more useful group of virtual computers.
What are the benefits?
One of the main benefits of virtualization is that it can cut a business’ IT costs. For instance, a business with multiple servers could use server virtualization to reduce the number of physical servers, decreasing maintenance and security costs. It also allows you to get the most out of your existing hardware investments. Rather than buying a new PC, laptop, or server, you can improve your utilization of the hardware you already own. And, you can easily set up redundant systems for disaster recovery, without having to add more hardware.
Virtualization can also help you minimize operating costs (e.g. power bills). Since you are already running the physical computer, adding virtualization can give you more computing power, without increasing utility expenses or requiring more physical space to house a server.
Once you virtualize, it makes it dramatically faster and easier to move the contents of your server to new hardware—whether on-site or in the cloud. This includes simplifying the upgrade process which is especially important if you’re running Windows Server 2003. On July 14, 2015, support will end for this product (incl. Windows Small Business Server 2003). Upgrade now to Windows Server 2012 R2 to help reduce capital costs, maximize your IT investments, and receive scalable data storage and application support for your growing business.
How is virtualization different from cloud technology?
Virtualization and cloud computing are related, but they are not the same thing. Both represent ways to reduce infrastructure costs by making the most of computing resources. Cloud computing allows entire services or applications to run on a network of distributed computers. Public cloud services can be subscription services like web-based email or Office 365, or online communication services like Skype or Lync. A private cloud, on the other hand, offers customizable services housed on your company’s servers or those of an IT solutions provider. Hybrid cloud solutions use aspects of both public and private clouds. In all cases, cloud services appear to be provided by real server hardware, but are in fact served up by virtual hardware. Virtualization is a key component of cloud computing, but even by itself, virtualization can be beneficial to businesses of any size.
How virtualization is helping small and midsized businesses
For many of its customers, Canadian IT provider Genatec acts in place of an in-house IT team for the small and midsized businesses it serves. In business for over sixteen years, Genatec originally set up its customers with on-premises solutions that answered all their customers’ needs in one package. But recently, many of these customers were limping along on older software and hardware installed years ago. They were having reliability and performance problems, yet were not eager to invest in new technology. Virtualization to the rescue! Genatec has been recommending Windows Server 2012 R2 together with Office 365. For one customer, a hotel chain, Genatec replaced 16 servers with two physical servers virtualized with Hyper-V and moved email to Office 365. The company gained full redundancy of critical systems and saved US$500,000 over five years in server acquisition and maintenance and software licensing costs. Another customer, a pharmaceutical firm, had multiple servers in four locations and an expensive storage area network to ensure application redundancy. By upgrading to Windows Server 2012 R2, Genatec reduced their number of servers and replicated key server instances and the applications which run on them for disaster protection. The firm saved thousands of dollars by eliminating physical servers and gained a robust solution to grow with their business.