Chris Sigley

Have you virtualised yet? Is your business soaring on cloud nine or do you buy a whole new server every time you run out of disk space?

The benefits of migrating to the cloud have been widely covered since it gained considerable momentum amongst businesses. From reduced or more manageable costs, increased employee productivity and flexible working, amongst a host of others; many companies have embraced, and adopted cloud technology. However, that isn’t to say that moving from physical to virtual servers is right for everyone.

Whilst the cloud does have its benefits, keeping things physical also has its advantages. Whilst seemingly outdated and occasionally clunky, many business find that using physical servers meets their needs and therefore there’s no reason to fix something that doesn’t need to be fixed.

Nethertheless, moving into the high-tech jet stream of virtual servers could see your business maximising profits and becoming more responsive in a volatile business climate. So what about those businesses that are still using physical solutions and sat on the fence of migrating to the cloud?ID-10048250

Reasons To move

1. Cost savings – It’s common business sense that you should avoid spending money unnecessarily. A virtualised computing environment could save a business money by allowing multiple physical servers to be configured so as to increase or decrease the number of logical servers. This means you’re able to be flexible to the needs of your business without spending on any additional physical servers.

2. Time saving – Speaking of server provisioning, bootable images and virtual server templates can be kept on-hand for when they’re needed. This saves you from those time consuming tasks of installing and re-installing Windows, configuring firewall settings, restoring backups etc.

3. Easier testing – To add to the whole flexibility theme, how often have you wanted to test a new configuration or to try out a new sales application, only to discover that you didn’t have the necessary hardware? Testing new hardware and software is crucial to the continuity of any business making use of IT.

For more elaborate set-ups or labs, a dedicated virtual server environment allows testers to configure and reconfigure various scenarios at the drop of a hat. This saves them time and unnecessary frustration.ID-10084204

4. Quick recovery- Just like testers would boot up a server that they’ve configured for a specific purpose – with relevant applications installed and network settings already done – so your live systems can be made redundant with an equivalent or similar server environment running alongside it. This server environment doesn’t have to be active – depending on your business of course – but will provide the necessary backup systems in case of an outage.

Reasons not to move

1. Redundancy required – A prominent problem with virtual servers is that they’re still dependent on the underlying physical machines or devices. If a physical server suffers a mechanical fault, and there’s no redundancy in place, multiple virtual servers will be affected. This can be a catalyst for some serious financial consequences if there’s prolonged downtime.

2. Performance degradation – Separate applications might be installed on separate virtual servers, but these programs are still inextricably linked – they share the resources of their supporting physical server. As more demand from more virtual servers is placed on the physical servers, a serious degradation in performance could be experienced across the board and could negatively affect service-oriented or real-time business operations.

3. Licensing limitations – Some applications are not supported on shared environments and could even be in breach of the licensing agreement which can pose a significant problem for businesses. Furthermore, depending on which operating system you choose to go with, make sure it’s properly licensed for your environment as you could incur a significant cost depending on whether it’s installed on a physical or number of virtual servers.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are reasons both for and against virtualising. Depending on your business’ needs and how you currently use the solutions you already have in place. There is no right or wrong answer as to whether you should virtualise or not; after all no one understands your business better than those that work within it. Nevertheless, it’s important to make a well-informed decision on what would be most beneficial for you; whether that is to stay physical or jump to the cloud.

However, if you haven’t migrated to the cloud yet, you might be experiencing the feeling that you’re beginning to be left behind. If this is the case and you found that you could benefit from virtualising, it could be worth investing in some server blades for a little data centre of your own, or at least having a conversation with a local data centre service provider to find out how virtualising might benefit your business.

About the Author: Chris Sigley, is responsible for the day to day running of the UK division of Redstor, his remit encompasses sales and marketing, service delivery and finance. Chris joined Redstor in September 2004 and has progressed through numerous sales and management roles and has overseen its growth and evolution into a provider of key services and solutions.