If your server has recently bit the dust, or is on its last leg then you’re probably in the market for a new one. Perhaps you’ve overheard an IT geek talking about virtual servers in passing, and aren’t quite sure what a virtual server is. Simply put, a virtual server is software installed on a physical server that allows you to host multiple virtual machines.
So what’s the benefit you ask? Well, this allows you to consolidate multiple servers onto one piece of hardware. You can operate an email server, web server, and database server on one physical server instead of purchasing three separate hardware servers for each. The initial cost savings are easy to calculate, but there are added benefits too.
Virtual servers are inherently more mobile than their physical counterparts. For instance, if the hard drive in your physical server dies, your server would be offline until you receive a new hard drive, and if you’re only backing up the data then you’ll have to rebuild the server from scratch and restore the data. This could put you out of business for an additional 8 to 12 hours! Now, If you have a virtual server environment, you can simply install the virtual software on another system and move the virtual machine while your physical server is being repaired, keeping you and your employees working.
What’s the catch? It goes without saying that running multiple virtual machines on one piece of hardware requires a pretty beefy server. Typically you will need a server with dual processors, a ton of RAM & disk space, and preferably dual power supplies and network cards. Since you have three of your servers on one device you probably want to purchase a top notch warranty for speedy hardware replacement. This will increase the cost of the server, however considering that you traditionally would need to purchase three separate servers; you will almost certainly see a cost savings with a virtual server.
Either way you decide to go, it’s best to discuss the options with your IT provider to develop the best solution for your business.