Virtualization. Most firms have heard about it. But for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the closest they probably come to using virtualization is running Windows from within their Mac laptop using Parallels.
But virtualization can be leveraged even by SMBs. The trick is not being scared away by the enterprise-focused offerings.
While SMBs usually only will have a few servers in a closet somewhere, not a full data center, there still are good reasons to virtualize.
Virtualization enables the small business to much more easily upgrade hardware as needed without having to take down the server. It allows for testing without the need for additional equipment. It enables standby resources that can be spun up as needed. It can be a game-changer for SMBs.
To make it happen, however, what needs to be kept in mind is not to be scared away from larger virtualization solutions that are both far more complex and much more costly.
While rack and blade servers are the usual hardware suspects when it comes to virtualization, the power and cost requirements don’t necessarily make them good candidates for SMBs. The solution is microservers. These mini-tower servers are designed for the SMB market and pack a lot of power but in a configuration that is more SMB affordable.
They often support dual-core CPUs and up to 16 GB of memory in a low-power frame, and they can support four hard drives with built-in support for some RAID levels. Features are somewhat reduced, but for the SMB it still can be a virtualization gateway.
Don’t forget proper power management, though; that’s one of the first areas that SMBs skip, and one of the places where cutting corners can be disastrous. Servers are the computing heart of a business, and they need continuous power just like a heart needs blood. So it is important to invest in a power management solution such as those offered by Server Technology (News - Alert). They can both help manage and protect the power coming into the SMB’s server setup.
Software also is where SMBs usually get tripped up. The leader in virtualization software, VMware, can be quite pricey even if it is top dog.
But what many businesses don’t realize is that VMware’s hypervisor, the guts of virtualization, is free without any limitations. Some of the advanced features are not available, such as vMotion and High Availability, but an SMB can actually get a full VMware ESXi host running without the hefty price tag (News - Alert).
Support also does not need to be costly, which is another big stumbling block for many SMBs. While support contracts can quickly run into the thousands, companies such as VMware have free community forums that can handle most issues with just a little bit of digging. If a business stays relatively basic, the forums will be enough to solve any problem that will arise.
Even though SMBs might think they are left out in the cold when it comes to virtualization—they’re not.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson