Virtualization: Is it right for you?

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With both powerful hardware and huge amounts of data storage easily (and relatively cheaply) available to almost anyone virtualizing multiple desktops (or even an entire office worth of PCs) is becoming increasing commonplace.

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First used in the 1960s to split the resource available to old mainframe computers between different applications, virtualization has become much more popular.

With the advent of faster hardware and affordable mass storage, virtualization is so much easier for anyone to embrace and utilise. As the need arises for multiple servers in even the smallest organisation the ability to create and retire servers almost at will makes virtualization a very manageable and cost effective solution for many.

Replacing physical servers with virtual ones has many advantages: cost, space and manageability all make this technology very desirable. Testing new environments along with manageable update programs can be a lot easier in a virtual world.

“The increased flexibility of having files, data, applications and emails in one central location has been a massive boon to many of our clients” – Chris Gorman, Director at Apex Computing Services ltd.

Because virtual servers are able to seamlessly move from one piece of hardware to another, it can limit your downtime in case of hardware failure; there’s also advantages when managing your updates and upgrades in a cluster environment.

Virtual server usage can grow rapidly, once the benefits and advantages are seen more servers or desktops may be created quite rapidly. The host hardware needs to be able to run these virtual machines smoothly so resources need to be considered.

You also need to consider redundancy: having multiple instances on one piece of hardware may keep your costs down but if that single machine fails then you lose everything being hosted on it.

“Our clients have managed to reduce running and maintenance costs by moving over to a single server with virtualized desktops” – Chris Gorman, Director at Apex Computing Services ltd.

Often securing your virtual environment has a load or impact on resources, multiple machines running simultaneous scans will drastically reduce the power needed to allow your systems to run smoothly.

Using hypervisor level scanning can reduce this impact, also of course if the host machine is compromised then that could cause security issues for any clients.

Virtualization clearly isn’t without it’s draw backs but the benefits, if you have the hardware, can easily outshine any negatives. Ultimately you lose nothing by giving virtualization a try on a smaller scale, before potentially investing and scaling up: it might be just the boost your business needs.