by Edward L. Haletky

SMB Installs Show Virtual Servers Have Come of Age

Jun 21, 20083 mins

When even relatively small businesses see the benefit—and can handle the cost and complexity—of virtualization, you know it's a technology that's here to stay.

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) are investing in virtualization not only to save on power and cooling costs, but also to control the growth of their businesses’ data centers.

With power, cooling, rack space, and square foot costs increasing, the SMBs are starting to virtualize their servers. Granted these are small virtualizations and small cost savings, but any cost savings is an investment in the future to these companies.

An example is Jay Simmons of the Memphis Gastroenterology Group; This doctor’s office moved from 20 physical servers down to 4 servers (1 Virtual Center, and 3 ESX hosts). The spare capacity has saved them on power and cooling, and allowed them to move some of their existing hardware to a remote site that will act as a hotsite.

Granted, the servers are maybe a generation or two out of date, but they are sufficient to handle their most important workloads if the main site has an issue. At last count the group now has 30 virtual machines available.

When doctors and lawyers get involved in virtualization, the market has changed drastically. Virtualization has moved from the main data center of large corporations, and from the behind the scenes developer playgrounds, to becoming the accepted norm in SMBs. Virtualization has come of age with this movement.

The main reason the virtualize is to save money, and increase redundancy. Yes, it can be expensive to virtualize the smaller SMBs. In Jay’s case, the cost of upgrading 20 servers and buying 10 more was higher in the long run than buying three servers that can act as virtualization hosts, VMware Virtual Infrastructure Server Standard, and sending an older server or two to their hotsite.

Not only are the SMBs serious about virtualization, but they are also serious about security. With new compliance requirements coming out all the time, they want their virtualization servers to be secure.

They are considering this all important aspect of virtualization from the beginning and implementing with this in mind. SMBs want easy to use, easy to implement virtualization monitoring and security tools that are also inexpensive.

For these companies, cost is an overwhelming factor, yet even so, they are ready and willing to virtualize.

Virtualization expert Edward L. Haletky is the author of “VMWare ESX Server in the Enterprise: Planning and Securing Virtualization Servers,” Pearson Education (2008.) He recently left Hewlett-Packard, where he worked in the Virtualization, Linux, and High-Performance Technical Computing teams. Haletky owns AstroArch Consulting, providing virtualization, security, and network consulting and development. Haletky is also a champion and moderator for the VMware discussion forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions.