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Virtualization Can Be Better Than The Real Thing

Aug 25, 2008
What is virtualization, you may ask? In computer terms, it tends to mean the act of making a single hardware resource able to function as multiple functional resources. This includes an instance of one machine able to use different characteristics to work as a single logical resource.

In most cases a work station or server only has a single operating system. For example, it could be Vista or XP for work stations, or it could be a Windows 2003 server. But what if you wanted a 'multi-lingual' server or work station? A computer can attain the ability to support multiple operating systems with the use of virtualization. That is, the virtual work station can handle either Vista or Windows 2000. Additinally, a server could alternately have multiple copies of Windows 2003 running, including one for your overall files, one to run the SQL, and another for your financial applications.

There is another important issue to consider when evaluating hardware capital investment: resources are the main factor driving today's work stations and servers. For this reason it is surprising to realize the unfortunate situation in today's business world: most computer hardware resources are greatly underutilized, with spare power to process and storage memory all left idle.

Most servers are working at only 15% capacity of the level of processing possible, and at 30% of the available memory. Virtualization maximizes these underutilized resources by forming a platform which enables encapsulated operating systems to max out your hardware capital. Addition of new servers is not necessary when the situation requires upgrades or additions, and instead new virtual servers can be added to the existing hardware. This can help to reduce costs in terms of new capital, energy use and storage space required for infrastructure.

Virtualization supplies small business with increased flexibility which cannot be supplied by a regular environment. There are plenty of businesses which use legacy applications which won't run on current operating system. A Windows NT, 98, or 2000 computer left running on the environment can cause big security risks and problems with administration - particularly if it's an old machine on an old operating system. These legacy applications can run virtually on another robust work station, instead of supporting a legacy work station. This makes them both secure and on-demand. Virtualization also enables you to build infrastructure without 'hardware sprawl.' If the company requires another server to accommodate growth or applications, you can annex a virtual server to the robust server, thereby keeping the implementation cost down because you won't need the next six-thousand-dollar server.

There are additional benefits to virtualization. For example, there is support for operating systems as varied as Unix, Linux, and Solaris, and complete work stations and servers can be made redundant or restored for ease of portability. These virtualized servers and work stations can be relocated to other machines without much difficulty in the case of system failure or the need to upgrade. It is possible to maximize these available resources and use virtualization to reach your resource availability goals.
About the Author
Nick Pegley is VP Marketing for All Covered: Technology Services Partner for Small Business, providing disaster recovery solutions and technology services in 20 major U.S. metro areas.
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