For some companies, server virtualization has been pivotal in elevating their operations, creating value through increased efficiency and reduced costs.
The ability to put costly server investment in the past is an attractive prospect, but as with any important business decision, it’s important to weigh the benefits before making your final decision.
If your company is considering a move toward server virtualization, there are distinct pros and cons you should be aware of before diving in.
Server virtualization basics
A virtual server environment is, essentially, housed in the cloud. It divides one physical server into several virtual environments, masking server resources (including operating systems, physical servers, and processors). It makes more efficient use of available resources using a distributed architecture to improve availability and security and reduce CPU usage. Server virtualization also centralizes server administration and offers significant supports to disaster recovery efforts.
Server virtualization benefits
Server virtualization brings with it a range of clear benefits.
One of the most significant benefits of server virtualization is cost reduction. This cost reduction can be realized in four distinct areas:
1. Hardware savings. Without the need to purchase or upgrade costly server hardware, companies can reallocate their funds back into growing their business.
2. Operational savings. With a large server array, it is necessary to employ dedicated technicians to maintain it all. Salaries for full-time tech staff are a considerable drain on spending for many companies, but with virtualization, these resources can be reduced to part-time or even channeled into less-costly managed services.
3. Energy savings. An extensive collection of physical servers is a massive drain on energy resources. Not only do they need to be kept running, they need to be kept cool—meaning there will be extra energy involved to maintain climate stability in the server room. Virtualization eliminates this need, potentially reducing your energy consumption by a significant degree.
4. Real estate savings. Physical servers tend to take up a fair bit of room. With office space at a premium, this can be quite costly. Virtualization of your servers can support downsizing efforts and help you save on real estate. That space can then be repurposed for other things or gotten rid of entirely.
Virtualization promotes automation
When servers are virtualized, many IT operations can be automated. This takes a great deal of pressure off of your IT department and may allow you to reduce the number of technicians you have on staff. Repetitive functions can be performed automatically and with greater efficiency and accuracy.
Virtualization makes backup and recovery more efficient and reliable
In today’s volatile and unpredictable tech environment, having a reliable way to back up and restore your systems could mean the difference between staying in business or having to shut down your operations.
Cyberattacks, power surges, and terrestrial disasters—like flooding, fires, or earthquakes—could potentially take a company down if their servers are destroyed. When servers are virtualized, however, there is always a copy of your system available to deploy right away.
Server redundancies reduce downtime to a minimum and prevent outages so that no matter what happens, your systems can carry on as usual. On the customer-facing side, there will likely be little to no impact whatsoever.
Virtualization supports scale
If your company is experiencing sudden growth, your systems need to scale in order to achieve success. A virtualized environment is highly scalable, as you can create as many new resources as needed on demand. There is no need to invest in servers you aren’t using, and you will only pay for what you need when you need it.
This process can be automated as well, so you won’t have to lose any sleep wondering if your e-commerce site is going to crash.
Server virtualization drawbacks
As with any good thing, there are always some caveats.
The cost of entry can be prohibitive
Virtualization, like any other technological initiative, is pay-to-play. For instance, the physical servers that can be virtualized cost more than their traditional counterparts.
You will also bear the cost of software licensing. Fortunately, the cost savings you will see as a result of virtualization should balance that cost out in the end.
Not all applications can be virtualized
You may still need to maintain a hybrid system to ensure all of your applications keep working as they should. Today, most applications support virtualization, but if you are running proprietary software, you may want to look at its capabilities before moving forward.
Data security is one of the most significant issues we face today. Virtualization carries an added security risk, so additional spending will be required to ensure data safety and integrity. This can extend to insurance, security hardware, software, and a more robust monitoring policy.
In conclusion, server virtualization is a network management strategy that can be very helpful in supporting your scale and digital transformation. For companies of all sizes, it opens up many new opportunities and advantages. While server virtualization still has some concerns attached to it—such as security risks and considerable costs—these are known quantities that can be addressed.
If you are a company in Arkansas and would like to learn more about server virtualization, set up a call with Business World today.