The adoption of computers by small businesses gave them the opportunity and platform to expand their business beyond local boundaries. Arguably, it’s the small business that drives economies around the world. To succeed in industries often dominated by a small number of large corporate conglomerates, small businesses need to capitalize upon every opportunity to increase margins. One thing that can enable this is virtualization of technical systems.
In technical circles, the process of virtualization is the creation of a virtual copy of something actual like a server, network or storage device. Virtualization allows one device to run as more than one device. Running Windows on your Mac, or partitioning a physical hard drive into smaller sections that each act as a separate hard drive are examples of virtualization. In general, there are four types of virtualization:
- Operating System virtualization. Running more than one operating system on the same device.
- Server virtualization. Running more than one server on the same physical server.
- Storage virtualization. Linking together multiple storage devices into what’s perceived as one device. Cloud storage is a common form of storage virtualization.
- Network virtualization. Network virtualization is the combining of network connections like Internet and other Data into one seemingly visible network and then dividing the connection into separate connections. For example, one can split a 5mb connection and assign 2mb to a server and 3mb to employee’s computers.
In small businesses, the most popular type of virtualization is server virtualization. When many experts use the term “virtualization” they’re normally talking about server virtualization. The four types of virtualization do share common benefits however. These benefits include:
- Decreased physical hardware. When you virtualize systems, you need less hardware. Imagine an office that has both Mac and Windows computers. With virtualization you can run both Windows and Mac OSX on the same machine, which means no need to duplicate computers. If you have more than one server, you can bring them together onto one server, and possibly be able to get rid of unnecessary equipment.
- Reduced overhead. With virtualization you are able to get rid of hardware, which also means reducing the associated operating costs like electricity bills and capital expenditures such as maintenance. You save money in the long run.
- Increased efficiency. As virtualization solidifies different systems into one, you’ll be able to more efficiently use the hardware components. That is, there’s no need to have separate Internet connections for email, servers and computers.
- Easy Disaster Recovery. With virtualization, you don’t need to invest heavily in backing up your company’s data, allowing you to take the money saved from virtualization and invest it in a small number of offsite servers that house backups. If disaster strikes, you can be up and running again quickly.
- Extended device lifecycle. It seems that current hardware is out of date almost as soon as you buy it, and within a couple of years it’s struggling to meet demands of more modern programs. With virtualization, your programs are stored on servers, so the need for modern equipment is lessened. This means you can use your current equipment for longer.
The biggest benefit to virtualization is that it isn’t an all-or-nothing solution. You can virtualize different functions at your own pace, often starting with free or low cost solutions and working up to more advanced and more expensive implementations. If you’re interested in virtualizing your business or would like to learn more, please contact us.