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Virtualization & Small Business: Can Virtualization Help?

What are the ways that virtualization can benefit small businesses without breaking the bank?

Clint Eschberger's Blog

Sometimes I think virtualization, although scary, is a no brainer for medium to large companies. In today's world server sprawl has become a major problem and costs companies a lot of money not only on server hardware, but power, cooling, support, and square footage. On the other side you have small businesses that generally have a different make up. Many do not have data centers and some have no more than a handful of servers. Can virtualization help them? What are the ways that it can benefit them without breaking the bank?

The first question is easy, yes! You can quickly add some features to a small business that has only been available to enterprises before. Depending on the needs you can really gain some benefits and savings from virtualizing a small group of servers.

  • Backup and Disaster Recovery – You quickly gain the ability to have full backups and disaster recovery for your server. Since the servers are essentially files, they are more portable and easier to build a process for DR around.
  • Gain Resources – This sounds funny since you are essentially consolidating multiple physical servers into a few physical servers running a virtualization technology on it. However small businesses generally do not have as large of a budget for buying a lot of physical servers to handle new tasks. This leads to consolidating many apps on each server and causing potential problems or not getting the needed application. Now adding an additional server is much cheaper.

How can this be done without breaking the bank? Depending on the level of support you require you can generally find that the free versions of virtualization technologies will be more than enough to handle what you need. Most of the major vendors have free versions such as; VMware Server, Citrix XenServer Express, and OpenVZ.x

You may find that you need the support and enhanced versions. What I have found it that it is really not as expensive for a small environment as one might think. Especially with the competition!

Some things you do want to consider, is storage. If you plan on stepping up to the higher end products you may want to bring in storage. This again does not have to be high end, expensive storage. You may find Iscsi to suit your needs.

Virtualization is not one of those technologies that are limited to the larger companies. There is a place for smaller companies for virtualization. Not only can it be an enabler for your company, it can be a savior as well.

More Stories By Clint Eschberger

Clint Eschberger is US Technical Director / Sr. Systems Engineer at Egenera. He also works as a Technical Director for Egenera's OEM partnership with Dell.

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