Server virtualization can be a little difficult to wrap your head around at first. Unlike a dedicated server that is defined by the hardware it comes with, virtual servers are defined by software. This software carves out a portion of a larger server and assigns those resources for dedicated use by a virtual server. There are many pros and cons that come with this setup, which we’ll explore further. Any business considering virtualization should think about manageability, security and scalability before they make a decision.
While virtual servers are easier to manage, most businesses will still need a system administrator. Virtualization is easier because it’s possible to rapidly deploy servers, expand system resources and make these changes from a remote location. The ability to reboot virtual servers remotely is a relatively simple feature that can make a big difference for a system admin. As an example of this, consider a business with multiple locations and multiple dedicated servers at each of these locations. When a server needs to reboot, the system admin needs to travel to where the server is located. The same business configured to use virtual servers can save the time and expense of system admin travel simply by rebooting the server remotely.
With a dedicated server, the company that owns the server has complete control over its security. If that business has the right policies in place, then they will have their security needs covered. While this can also be true of virtual servers, there is a second layer to virtualization security. Companies often forget about the security policies of the virtualization provider. Their policies combine with those created by each business running a virtual server on their platform. The only way to properly secure a virtual server is to work with a top-notch virtualization provider.
Another major aspect of security is redundancy of backups. With virtual servers, it’s possible to quickly and easily backup business data and servers. These backups can be located in multiple locations in order to minimize down time caused by natural disasters and other catastrophes.
Dedicated servers are limited to only the resources on that server. Upgrading the hardware on a dedicated server can take hours, days or even weeks. Even the fastest dedicated server upgrades take far longer than a traffic spike lasts on the Internet. When the servers are virtual, it’s easy to redeploy on a more robust configuration during traffic spikes. Additionally, virtual servers created on a cloud platform can rapidly and automatically scale to meet traffic demands. In terms of scalability, virtual servers offer many benefits over a dedicated server. However, there is always the option to setup a blended system in which a dedicated server manages core business processes and expands to virtual resources in the cloud as needed.
It’s important to know how a business will be impacted by manageability, security and scalability before deciding if virtualization is the right choice. What may be great for one company or business process may not be a good choice for another. Many times, businesses find that a blended solution meets their needs and offers the best of both worlds.
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