Most people don’t realize that servers are often the most underused computers in a business. In the case of smaller companies with their own in-house IT infrastructures, a server often runs only one operating system and uses only a fraction of its available processing power to manage things like the company email. It's not uncommon to set up an entirely separate server for another solution, like network storage or hosting the company website, which is an inefficient use of hardware.
As your computing requirements grow, so does the need for physical space, cooling, and electrical power. Adding more servers hardly comes cheap either, especially when you have to factor in the cost of installation and maintenance. Eventually, you’ll end up with a complex infrastructure that requires several full-time in-house technicians to operate smoothly.
Using software to bring everything together
Servers are the backbone of any business’ IT, so it’s imperative that you’re getting the best possible performance out of them. Rather than buying a new server every time you find yourself running out of available processing power, you can consolidate all available computing resources into a single virtual machine that can handle everything.
Server virtualization technology is nothing new, and it’s been used for decades in the world of big-business computing. Instead of having one machine running a single operating system and performing a single role, you can use software to consolidate multiple servers and allocate resources efficiently. You can then define how much power each server gets instead of being restricted by hardware limitations.
Consolidating your servers using virtualization technology should always be the first step before investing in expensive upgrades like new servers, storage devices, or other components. The idea is to get the maximum possible use out of an existing server, while reducing energy consumption, cooling requirements, and the physical space needed.
Aside from maximizing the utilization of all available processing power, consolidating your servers also allows you to simplify how they’re managed. With virtualization software, administrators can delegate and prioritize tasks across multiple servers from a central console. This makes it easier and quicker to deploy new applications, create virtual desktops for new employees, and reduce or even eliminate downtime due to data migration.
Disaster recovery and business continuity
As an enabler of consolidation, server virtualization also helps with disaster recovery and business continuity since each individual virtualized resource, such as a server or virtual desktop, exists in the form of something akin to a file. It can be duplicated, pasted, and backed up on another physical server, either in-house or hosted in a remote data center and delivered via the cloud.
Since you can typically create a new virtual machine in a matter of minutes, getting back on track after a disaster is quicker and easier than ever. Even if your data center is rendered inoperable by a natural disaster, hardware failure, or anything else, you can simply open backup copies of your virtual machines on any other server that’s powerful enough to run them.
When should you consolidate your servers?
Server consolidation tends to work best for organizations that are operating three or more physical servers. However, it’s also possible to over-consolidate by attempting to push your physical hardware to its absolute limits. Long before this happens, you’ll want to add a new physical server to prevent problems like overheating or performance bottlenecks.
Ultimately, server consolidation using virtualization technology makes in-house IT far more scalable, but it’s not without its limitations. For smaller organizations with fast-growing computing needs, it often makes more sense to opt for cloud-based virtualization in which computing workloads are handled in an off-site data center. Since cloud virtualization providers have economies of scale far greater than what many organizations can hope to achieve in-house, this provides far more opportunity for growth.
SimplyClouds helps businesses in San Francisco and San Jose utilize their in-house IT resources to their fullest potential with cutting-edge virtualization technology. Contact us today to obtain a complimentary consultation.