You may have heard the term “virtualization” thrown around before, but what does it mean, and why should your small- to mid-sized business (SMB) care? Simply put, virtualization is the process of creating a virtual machine (VM), which is a virtual version of a physical computer that can be used to run software, applications, and even operating systems. You can create and run multiple VMs on one physical piece of hardware.
There are many benefits to virtualizing your SMB’s IT infrastructure, but there are also some drawbacks that you must consider. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of virtualization.
Related reading: Virtualization: A beginner’s guide
Pros of virtualization
Virtualization offers a number of benefits for SMBs, including:
Lower IT costs
Virtualization can help reduce your overall IT costs in several ways. First, it allows you to run multiple virtualized servers on just one physical machine, which translates to lower hardware costs. Second, it can help reduce power and cooling costs, as VMs use less energy than their physical counterparts. Finally, it can simplify your IT infrastructure, making it easier and less expensive to manage and maintain.
Efficient resource utilization
Virtualization can help you make better use of your IT resources by allowing you to allocate resources more efficiently. For example, if you have a physical server with four processors but are only using two of them, you can use virtualization to create two VMs, each running on two processors. This would allow you to make better use of your server’s resources and potentially save money on your overall IT costs.
Virtualization makes it easy to scale your IT infrastructure up or down as needed. If you need to add more capacity to your existing infrastructure, you can simply add more VMs. This can be done quickly and easily without having to purchase additional hardware.
Cons of virtualization
Virtualized environments are not always perfect, and there are some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of. The main ones are as follows:
Hefty upfront costs
There are often significant upfront costs associated with virtualizing your SMB’s IT infrastructure. For example, you may need to purchase new hardware or software and properly train your staff on how to use them. Especially if you’re aiming to fully transition from a legacy system, you can expect to spend at least $10,000 for the servers and software licenses. This can be an enormous investment for some SMBs.
Not everything in your IT infrastructure can work well — or at all — in a virtualized environment. For example, you cannot currently virtualize applications that require direct access to the hardware, such as antivirus software or certain types of hardware-based firewalls. You also cannot virtualize certain legacy applications that are not compatible with virtualization technologies. That’s why it’s important to do your research and make sure that all of your business-critical applications are compatible with virtualization before making the switch.
Potential virtualization sprawl
Virtualization can lead to what’s known as “virtualization sprawl,” which is when you have too many VMs that it becomes difficult to track and manage them all. Because creating and managing VMs is relatively simple and can be done quickly, it’s easy to lose track of how many you have running and what each one is used for. This can lead to confusion, inconsistency, and even security risks. To avoid virtualization sprawl, you should have a clear plan and strategy for how you will utilize virtualization in your business.
Related reading: 6 Common ways virtualization fails
The key takeaway
If you’re looking to increase the agility, efficiency, and scalability of your IT infrastructure while keeping costs down, virtualization may be the right solution for your SMB. However, you may need to make a significant upfront investment and ensure that your IT assets are capable of virtualization.
Not all businesses are the same, and what works for one may not work for another. The best way to figure out if virtualization is right for your SMB is to do your research, weigh the pros and cons, and talk to experts like Kortek Solutions. Give us a call today and we will help you understand your options and make the best decision for your SMB.