What Is Virtualization and What Can It Do for Your Business?

What Is Virtualization and What Can It Do for Your Business?

You’ve probably already heard about virtualization technology and how it can save your business money by making your daily operations run more efficiently. However, as is the case with any new system, making the transition requires at least a basic understanding of the underlying technology and how its features translate into benefits that align with your company’s goals.

Virtualization refers to the creation of computing resources comprised of software rather than hardware. These resources might be applications, PC desktops, storage networks, or even entire servers. In terms of functionality, virtual computing resources work much like their physical counterparts.

To give an example, imagine a single server delivering multiple desktops to employees, with each one functioning as if the employee were using a standalone physical desktop computer. Of course, you will still need some sort of computer to access and use the virtual desktop delivered by the virtual server, but the bulk of the computing resources will be on the server so the computers your employees use can be bare-bones, and therefore much less expensive.

This is also where the cloud and virtualization are commonly confused, but they are not interchangeable terms. The cloud simply refers to off-site computing, typically using virtualized resources, with applications and functionality delivered over the internet, often through a web browser. Virtualization, however, may be carried out in-house or over the cloud.

What Are the Benefits of Virtualization?

It’s hard to define in layman’s terms a technology that is as technical as virtualization, so it’s perhaps better to explore its benefits instead. Ultimately, virtualization is about doing more with fewer resources. In some cases it involves a single physical machine performing multiple roles. In others, virtualization technology pools together multiple physical machines into a single virtual machine that’s centrally managed as one unit. Imagine, for example, a dozen hard drives being pooled together to function as a single large hard drive.

Virtualization enhances efficiency by making maximum use out of the available computing resources, which means fewer physical servers are required. Moreover, fewer servers means reduced maintenance and energy requirements, while centralized management greatly simplifies administration. The actual user endpoints can be anything, such as a barebones thin client computer, a laptop, or even a smartphone. Since the computing workloads are handled by the remote server, the hardware requirements on the user’s end are minimal.

Because virtual machines are defined by software, they can also be moved around more easily, rather like any other kind of software. For example, say you have a full virtual desktop workspace, complete with the operating system and all the programs you use for work. Because the virtual machine is like a single digital file stored on a server, you can move it from one server to another without a hitch. That makes virtualization ideal when it comes to disaster recovery, data backup, and upgrading to newer hardware.

Is Virtualization a Good Fit for Your Business?

There’s no doubt about it – corporate IT can be very expensive and complicated. By virtualizing certain computing resources, you can improve efficiency, lower costs, and ease the administrative burden. Combine virtualization technology with a dependable cloud provider, and you hardly need to worry about maintaining or upgrading your IT resources at all.

Virtualization, especially when integrated with cloud computing, can be beneficial for almost any business. However, the benefits really start to show when you have at least five users who all need their own desktop environments for work. Other major considerations include your current server capacity and bandwidth availability. However, if you’re using cloud-based virtualization technology, your cloud vendor will provide the servers and other physical infrastructure required to create your virtual workspaces. You just need to make sure your internet connection is sufficient.

While virtualization is a perfect fit for many computing workloads, it’s not ideal for some specialized workloads, particularly those that require specific peripherals or consume a great deal of processing power. For example, tasks like graphic design or video editing require specialized hardware and are better off being handled by a traditional workstation computer.

Virtualization can reduce your IT costs by up to 70%, depending on your computing requirements. If you’re ready to say goodbye to inefficient technology and start doing more with less, call OC-IT today, and learn what our virtualization solutions can do for you.