Server virtualization maximizes your system performance by allowing two or more systems to co-exist on one server. The benefits of virtualization can be seen by organizations of every size, from Fortune 500s to small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). As the CIO of an SMB, however, there are a few things you should pay close attention to when considering adopting virtualization in today’s market. We’ve highlighted five key points to get you started.
1. Virtualizing real-time applications such as voice
Long gone are the days when operational time delays prevented real-time applications such as voice from being virtualized. In today’s world, virtualizing voice virtualization shatters the latency barrier between real-time and non-real time business applications, enabling your Unified Communications (UC) applications to work to their fullest potential on a virtualized platform – without the risk of delays compromising system effectiveness. When voice applications are virtualized, your telephony hardware can be condensed right along with your computing infrastructure, further streamlining your communications network with simplified voice administration. Moreover, virtualizing real-time applications like voice and UC can additional value to an existing virtualization strategy.
A virtualized voice and UC environment can accelerate the traditional benefits, including:
- Maximized IT resources- With virtualization, you condense your physical data center, making management and upgrades that much simpler. The result – your IT staff has more time to spend innovating instead of maintaining systems.
- Hardware consolidation: With virtualization, a few pieces of hardware can perform the jobs of many. In a virtualized environment, you can cut hardware and operational costs considerably.
- Increased energy efficiency: Fewer pieces of hardware means decreased energy costs and consumption without sacrificing functionality.
2. The benefits of virtualization are magnified for SMBs
Virtual servers result in increased efficiency, specifically when it comes to the use of resources. When you adopt virtualization in your SMB, you will benefit from lower maintenance costs and faster server deployment, among other benefits. Virtualization also makes increased agility and higher availability possible. Lack of availability can open the door to significant data and customer loss, and virtualization helps mitigate this risk – a benefit that is especially valuable to SMBs, who may have difficulty meeting requirements in these areas due to cost concerns.
Additionally, virtualization lowers the maintenance expenses and total cost of ownership (TCO) of IT infrastructures. With virtualization, you can count on increased efficiency for your SMB, since planned and unplanned downtime will either be decreased or eliminated. This is due to the fact that a virtualized infrastructure can move workloads from one host to another quickly and consistently without requiring hardware outages. This also results in one of the greatest benefits of virtualization; the enhanced end-user experience. Virtualization enables your IT staff to migrate virtual servers and desktops between physical platforms without interruptions that can, in turn, affect user productivity.
A major obstacle many SMBs face is storage. In order for virtualization to be effective, virtual servers and virtual desktops need to be able to move transparently and quickly between multiple hardware platforms. In order to do this, each virtual component must have common access to shared storage to transfer workloads between physical servers. One way to solve this challenge is with storage area networks (SANs) that use direct-attached disks interconnected between multiple servers.
One luxury many large enterprise organizations have is built-in protection from bottlenecks. This “safety net” isn’t as common in SMBs, so special consideration should be taken to avoid such situations. Storage disruptions and delays in physical server access becomes far more serious in a virtualized environment. Any single points of failure in a centralized SAN spread across the entire set of interconnected servers and can potentially impact between one and nine hundred virtual servers and thousands of desktops. You have to be particularly cautious of this risk in an SMB, so be sure to research virtualization platforms that deliver a safety net to avoid this problem.
4. Low-end equipment investments can lead to higher TCO.
Due to restrictive budgets, it is common in SMB virtualization implementations to consider equipment that can be adopted at extremely low price points. While this may save money on the front-end, in many cases these tools lead to a higher TCO since they create a complex infrastructure that is ultimately too difficult to manage or scale. Rather than falling into this trap, SMBs should seek out complete solutions designed specifically to accommodate their needs both present and future. Ask questions prior to deployment about the cost of project management, shared storage infrastructure development, higher availability and the performance requirements of centralized operations.
5. Leverage your existing technology.
Instead of removing your existing hardware and making unnecessary investments in new machinery, deploy a virtualization solution that repurposes the hardware you’ve already deployed. Look for storage virtualization software that enables construction of virtual SANs using internal disks in each physical server. This allows you to turn a pair of existing servers into a dedicated, highly available and high-performance SAN. Such options should also reduce the risk of data loss with continuous real-time replication.
Virtualization also gives you the comfort of scalability – you can easily add new systems at single or multiple locations by cloning your HyperV or VMWare server instance. Search for a provider who has options tailored to the SMB market, offering software with user-based licensing and no additional costs per software instance. When you implement solutions such as these, your business is free to populate as many copies throughout their organization as they deem necessary for backup, disaster recovery, and load balancing.
Regardless of the size of your company, virtualization should simplify environments, not complicate them. With SMB-specific virtualization platforms now on the market, CIOs can select technology that delivers easy maintenance, affordable implementation and the scalability they seek.