Much like the human brain, most physical servers use only a small fraction of their computing power, and thats because conventional server technology matches just one operating system with one physical server. And then -- to make sure applications are compatible with the operating system -- conventional servers are also paired one-to-one with business-critical software applications. This practice leaves huge portions of server capacity unused.
Server virtualization technology allows multiple, independent operating systems to run virtually on a single server, making the most of each physical servers capacity. In effect, it creates multiple, independent computers on each server. For example, instead of running 10 servers at 20 percent capacity each -- and just one or a small handful of applications on each server -- virtualization enables many businesses to use only two or three servers, each at close to maximum capacity.
Eliminating physical machinery reduces power consumption both the power to run the servers and the power to cool the server room. It also simplifies maintenance while keeping the same amount of computing power. When implemented correctly, server virtualization also frees up financial and human resources for more strategic initiatives. Consolidating resources through virtualization can reduce server-related costs by an estimated 50 to 70 percent.
Server virtualization also allows businesses to repurpose their information technology (IT) infrastructure rapidly if necessary, providing greater up time, higher fault tolerance and improved operational continuity in the event of a disaster or failure. However, poor planning decisions can eat away at the very savings that server virtualization offers.
If you're considering the benefits that virtualized severs can bring to your small business, the following best practice tips will help you get the job done right.
1. Base your virtualization investment decisions on reality, not theory. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your server environment to identify which pieces of hardware you can -- and should -- virtualize. Free tools from companies such as VMware or Microsoft can help identify exactly which servers are good candidates for virtualization, enabling you plan for your specific needs.
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