Should you go Virtual?

Should you go Virtual?

November 25th, 2013 by Christopher C. Wright

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The technology to virtualize servers and even whole networks has been around for over a decade but only recently have local Sonoma County businesses embraced this “new” opportunity. We at MSMB Networks are routinely asked about the benefits of server and network virtualization and whether it would serve specific corporate needs. Today we will be talking about a few benefits and opportunities made possible by this ever-advancing technology, and hopefully allow you to discern whether going virtual is the right step for your company.

What is Virtualization?

In traditional business networks each server was responsible for a limited number of roles — network administration, file storage, website or email hosting, and so on — often however these servers spent most of their time under-utilized and over-powered. With the advent and rise of virtualization however, one powerful physical machine can host multiple servers inside it, allocating resources as needed. Virtualization has revolutionized the way companies manage their IT infrastructure, as we explore today.

Resource Consolidation

IC300108 As businesses develop a “green” or Earth-conscious outlook often the first step is to look at power consumption. The operation of multiple physical servers can consume a great deal more energy than one machine running several virtualized servers, often to the tune of several thousand dollars a year or more. Microsoft released a technical white paper investigating this aspect of virtualization technology which we have linked to the right. These power savings are greatly magnified when applied to a data center, which often charges more for electricity than internet speed.

Rapid Deployment of new Servers and Backups

For companies with software development or Q&A departments the ability to “spin up” new or identical servers is essential. In a virtualized environment an existing installation can be cloned or a new base image turned on with only a few mouse clicks, allowing for far greater flexibility and development options than traditional server deployments. What’s more the virtual hardware each server interacts with can be changed on the fly, allowing developers to test how their products or services perform under a variety of conditions. With the ease of cloning servers, even running ones, checkpoints can be established that can be used to restore a server to a previous state — very akin to Microsoft’s System Restore Points save designed for an enterprise, virtual environment. Just as with new deployments checkpoints can be implemented almost instantly, providing an unparalleled level of protection against file loss or corruption.

Disaster Recovery and Cluster Failover

Many legal, medical, and financial firms have internal and client-facing services that are classed as “high availability,” in that they cannot go down, regardless of software or hardware error. With powerful server clustering technology a virtual machine can be automatically migrated to a different physical server not just to boost performance but also to split server load or in the event of connection interruptions. Combined with the checkpoint and cloning systems that can be set up to replicate offsite even in the event of a complete network shutdown a remote failover network can automatically sense the disconnect and take over, ensuring that your crucial data is available through software updates, hardware changes, and even natural disasters.

Is Virtualization Right for your Company?

The companies likely to see the greatest benefit from virtualization are those with more than four servers and the need for high availability or load-bearing redundancy in their services. Typically these companies will have between fifty and two-hundred employees and already utilize robust storage mediums such as SAN enclosures with fibre channel connections. While these are the perfect candidates for virtualization even smaller businesses can benefit from the backup and fault-tolerant nature of enterprise-grade server hardware designed to provide virtualized services.

We at MSMB Networks enjoy helping Sonoma County businesses meet and exceed their growth projections while keeping under budget. Is virtualization for you? Email or call us at 415.462.6297 and let us design an upgrade path for you that will keep you ahead of the needs of your growing company without breaking the bank or wasting hardware.


MSMB Networks — Your IT Professionals!


Christopher C. Wright is the CTO of MSMB Networks, focusing on network and system administration, upgrade planning, disaster recovery, and IT budget analysis in Petaluma and all over Sonoma and Marin Counties. With more than fifteen years of hands-on experience, he is committed to educating and protecting his clients, ensuring they receive the best individualized support possible. Email him at christopher@msmbnetworks.com

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