The following article was written by Jonathan P. a Systems Specialist at River Run.
Over the past few years, there has been a great push in the enterprise space towards virtualization. As companies begin to think about upgrading their IT infrastructure, what reasons do they have to believe that virtualization will benefit them?
The most compelling reason is, of course, cost. In most places, a separate server is run for each business critical application that is needed. One for email, another for the accounting department, another to manage customer information, etc. That means three separate servers to maintain, three sets of disaster recoveries to plan for, three separate support contracts to maintain, etc. Even worse, the vast majority of the time, these servers are likely operating at only a fraction of their capacity. To say that virtualization simplifies all this would be an understatement. Instead of spreading your time and resources among many different servers, you can put your effort into making one physical machine as failproof as possible. For example, instead of putting one hot spare hard drive in each of those three servers, you can put two hot spares into the virtual machine host, allowing two hard drives to be lost while still operating at full capacity, as well as providing a cost saving of 33%.
Of course, since no machine is failproof, it’s worth noting that virtual machines’ other strong advantage is ease in backup and disaster recovery. Imagine having a near-realtime backup of all your servers that can be up and running within minutes of a server failing. That, in a nutshell, is what virtual machines offer. There are many different ways to implement backups, but the vast majority of them offer you an image that can be run and operated in place of the failed server. The best part is that it’s completely hardware agnostic. In a pinch, you could even have that failed server up and running, once again in minutes, on pretty much any laptop or workstation with completely standard hardware. Not that we would ever suggest doing this, but it does show the agility of a virtualized solution.
As a managed IT service provider, virtualization is our preferred solution due to how quickly it allows us to respond to any issues or concerns that a client may have. Whether it be a machine that didn’t come back up after a reboot, or reallocating RAM or disk space from one machine to another, we are often able to address our clients’ needs before a tech would have even been able to drive out to their site. As the push continues more and more companies begin to reap the benefits in cost, disaster recovery, and overall time respodning to issues by switching to virtualization.