In our ongoing effort to make IT understandable and accessible to everyone, we’re going to give a brief but thorough rundown of virtual servers – what they are, how they work, why virtualization is beneficial and whether virtual servers are right for your business. Ready to get started? Let’s jump right in.
What is a virtual server?
Whereas traditional servers were physical machines that ran one operating system, a virtual host is a physical machine that contains multiple separate “software containers”, each of which runs its own operating system. These software containers are the virtual servers. Each of these isolated virtual machines believes that it is a separate physical computer and behaves accordingly. Programs can’t tell the difference between physical and virtual machines, and neither can operating systems or other machines.
How are virtual servers used?
The main use of virtual servers for small businesses is to allow multiple owners (either business units within a company or different companies altogether) to have their own separate, secure server that they administer. Each business function (i.e. webserver, database server, application server, etc) can have a virtual server running on the physical machine with which to power their own domain name, IP address, applications and file directories. Larger businesses may use virtual servers to consolidate multiple physical machines to a single physical machine running virtual machines.
What are the benefits of a virtual server?
The main benefits of virtualization are resource allocation control, physical hardware redundancy, and better testing environments. These all combine to create a more efficient use of existing resources, whether in the physical infrastructure or the human resources managing the virtual pool, and therefore directly translate to a lower TCO. How many times have you had a server that was overbuilt due to the software vendor’s recommendations? With a virtual server, you can simply add or reduce the resources such as CPU, Ram, and/or disk space from a virtual server that doesn’t need those resources and have them available for where you do need them. With most virtual platforms, you can “move” a virtual server live from one “virtual host” to another. The virtual server doesn’t even know it was moved from one host to another. This allows you to manage hardware maintenance without suffering the typical required downtime. Also, virtual servers make great test environments. You can isolate a virtual server from the rest of your network and test new internal applications and software without the risk of a blind, company-wide rollout.
Should I use virtual servers for my business?
YES! Almost all businesses will benefit in one way or another by using virtual servers. There are some specific questions that need to be addressed with every business individually before making the move to virtual servers. Though there are benefits, it’s possible a virtual server isn’t right for your company. The best way to find to out is to talk with a certified IT professional who can advise you on the best server solution for your situation. Then you can make an educated, informed decision about whether virtual servers are right and the best implementation strategy for your company.