The quality of your technology is quickly becoming one of the few edges your business has on its competition, which means you should always be searching for the smartest, fastest tech for your employees. Perhaps the most fascinating technological movement of late is server virtualization, which allows workers to organize their processes with virtual environments while IT departments can cut back on resources to maintain critical server space. In many ways, server virtualization is a dream come true — but for some businesses, that dream could easily become a nightmare. Read on to learn the pros and cons of virtualization to find out if this fantastic tech is right for you.
Pro: Sustainable Server Use
If your brand is built on being green, you should strongly consider utilizing virtual servers. Because hundreds of virtual machines can live in a single server, they don’t require nearly as many resources as physical servers do. For environment-conscious companies, mitigating your unsustainable resources is a terrific boon when it comes to attracting a wider audience. For everyone else, virtual servers let you save money on expenses associated with energy and space, and cutting costs is always a benefit.
Con: Reduced Performance
Virtualization may require fewer natural resources, but it certainly is much more taxing on hardware resources, which will degrade the quality of your software and applications. Even servers that are equipped with additional resources to compete with the virtual drain usually cannot perform on a completely satisfactory level simply because every piece of software behaves differently in the virtual environment. There is almost nothing a company can do to mitigate this disadvantage to virtualization save rigorous testing of software before purchases.
Pro: Faster Provisioning
When (not if) you need additional server space, there are a number of actions that must be completed before you can attain it. With virtual servers, the time it takes to use your new server space is dramatically diminished. All data center administrators can almost instantly provision additional server space when they receive requests from their business units, which means businesses can expand faster and more efficiently. Comparatively, when you use physical servers, the admin must order a new tower and assemble it before you can have access to your extra storage space.
Con: Amplified Danger of Physical Failure
When you were younger, you probably learned not to put all of your eggs in one basket. In this case, the eggs are all your company’s data, and the basket is a single physical server. Servers go down all the time for various minor reasons, but most companies have other servers to keep their employees busy in the interim. However, if you have hundreds of virtual machines stored one a single device and that device goes rogue, you will be in a world of trouble.
Of course, there are ways to protect yourself from this catastrophe. You can buy virtualization security to protect against infiltration and viruses; you can cluster your virtual servers across a number of different physical servers; or you can back up your data with continuous data protection. These solutions are valid, but they do require a bit of extra work.
Pro: Isolation of Applications (Without Sprawl)
Before virtualization, most data centers instituted a one-server-one-application rule to isolate applications and keep data safe. Unfortunately, this rule needlessly increased costs for everyone — businesses who were forced to pay for additional servers and data centers who needed to pay for additional resources — and contributed heavily to server sprawl with underutilized servers. Virtual servers allow businesses and data centers to isolate applications without expending unnecessary costs to build additional servers, and it allows servers to work at their full capacity.
Con: Required New Skills and Tools
In the digital age, it may not seem important to consider the extra training your employees will need to interact in a virtual space — after all, innovation moves so quickly now that most people learn a new technology every few years. However, virtualization is not an install-and-go product. There are dozens of processes that are simply not the same in the virtual environment, which means your employees must adapt by building different proficiencies with alternate tools. Unfortunately, humans are creatures of habit, and the transition between using physical server space and using virtual machines will likely be a bumpy one.