Why Virtualization is a Good Idea for a Small Business
Large enterprises can have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of clients, and oceans of data that could require dozens of servers or more to store. In light of this, it’s easy to understand why executives at large enterprises utilize server virtualization. A business doesn’t have to store their raw data by the terabyte, however, to benefit from virtualization.
WHAT IS VIRTUALIZATION
Virtualization is a virtual (as opposed to actual) version of something like hardware, software, an operating system, or network. With virtualization, special software is used to allow a server to run several operating system images simultaneously in separate virtual instances.
Server virtualization provides a small business with almost unlimited storage space. One server can be “divided” to accommodate multiple tenants, each in its own virtual compartment. Since small businesses rarely require the amount of storage space that large enterprises do, server virtualization could go a long way toward helping a small-business owner get the most of the servers he already has on site.
Let’s look at some of the ways that server virtualization could benefit your small business.
Efficiency – Virtualization maximizes server space, which reduces the number of servers needed to store important company data.
Economy – Virtualization will cut down on your energy consumption, which will lower your monthly bill. Because you’ll need fewer servers, you’ll save money there as well. For a small-business owner, these minor savings can mean a lot in the long run, especially if his business is located in an area with high energy costs. Virtual servers require fewer people to maintain than physical servers, thus reducing the cost even further.
Disaster Recovery – Fires, theft, and natural disasters happen, often without warning. What would happen to your business if all of your important files were stored on in-house servers that got destroyed in an earthquake or fire? With cloud computing and virtualization, this becomes less of a worry, especially if you conduct regular checks to ensure that your data are being properly backed up, can be recovered if necessary, and that it is useable when recovered.
Virtualization cuts down on the risk that an employee or thief could easily walk off with important company files, something that can happen to a small-business owner who backs up his company’s files on external hard drives.
Of course, it’s important to store the physical servers on which you’ve created your virtual machines away from your office location. That way, if disaster strikes, your servers are less likely to be lost along with everything else, and you’ll be able to minimize downtime.
Business Continuity – Business continuity is about quickly recovering from things like power outages and server crashes. These two common occurrences could cost a small-business owner a lot of money depending on how long she and her employees remained idol waiting for power to be restored or a server to be repaired. Imagine a hotel that couldn’t book reservations or check in visitors because of a crashed server. No matter how understanding they might be, people would still go somewhere else, taking much-needed revenue along with them. Virtualizing at a data center will minimize this risk.
One useful feature of server virtualization is something called live migration, which reduces downtime to a matter of a few hours or several minutes. The beauty of live migration is that, in the event of a power outage or server failure, the virtual machine continues running while it is moved from one physical location to another, allowing you and your employees to remain productive and go about your usual business.
Conclusion – Virtualization has worked well for large enterprises. It will work well for small businesses, too, but there are still some who aren’t sure if it’s a good idea. Caution is good. Fear is not. Before dismissing the idea of virtualization, take some time to learn more about it; do some serious research. If you know other small-business owners who are already using virtualization in their companies, talk to them about the pluses and minuses. Choosing virtualization for your company is no small matter.