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April 24th, 2015

164_Virt_BFor decades, business owners have considered servers, data centers and IT staff a necessity for operations. 20 years ago, no one would have ever dreamed of a workplace without these integral tools. So it’s no wonder that virtualization has taken so long to catch on. When your business has relied on certain technologies for ages, it can be hard to let go. But in this day and age, the truth is that not letting go is now costing you money. That’s why we’ve compiled four questions to expose how IT without virtualization is eating into your profits.

Studies have shown that over 70% of IT budgeting is put towards simply “keeping the lights on.” If that sounds like a lot of money, that’s because it is. You’re likely spending thousands of dollars powering your IT equipment and paying your staff to manage it. And the truth is that it just doesn’t have to be that way. Virtualization can eliminate all those costs for a smoother running solution that you’ll never have to worry about.

So if you’re ready to examine your IT budget and see for yourself, here are 4 questions you need to ask:

1. What’s the cost of your data center?

We’re talking about the whole kit and caboodle: your servers, backup power supplies, air conditioning, security devices, and the overhead costs for the space to store all of this.

2. How much do you spend on cooling your servers?

Keeping your servers cool is a fact of life. Have you ever considered how much this is costing you?

3. How much is being budgeted towards cabling and adapters?

Don’t forget about these. We’re talking about not only the physical cables and adaptors, but also the costs of maintenance.

4. How much does it cost your IT staff to manage these resources?

It takes time for your staff to manage your IT. Time is money.

How does virtualization eliminate these costs? With virtualization you can kiss the data center, servers, cables and adapters goodbye (hello new office space). Instead, we store all your equipment off-site and deliver it to you via the Internet. Your computers and network continue to function normally. The only difference is they’re out of sight and out of mind. This equals lower maintenance costs, fewer overheads, less equipment, and fewer headaches.

And let’s not forget the time it costs to manage all of your IT equipment. With virtualization, we do this for you. This frees up the time of your current IT staff, allowing them to focus on more important things - like your business’s IT strategy and market changes. Better still, you may even have the option to completely eliminate the need for in-house IT staff. How’s that for cost savings?

Ready to make the switch to virtualization? Need more of your questions answered? Let’s talk today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 20th, 2015

Virt 164_BYou’ve heard of Cloud Computing and Virtualization, but you’re not sure which is best for your business. In fact you’re not even sure what the difference is between the two. If either of these thoughts have crossed your mind, then it’s time to get educated and learn how these modern technologies can boost your business. And more importantly, learn which one is better suited to your organisation’s immediate future.

The difference between Cloud Computing and Virtualization

To understand which technology you need, you first need to understand the role of that technology in your business.

Virtualization is basically using virtual hardware or software stored off-site, instead of the actual physical asset being in your office. A common asset many organisations choose to virtualize is a server. So if you’re thinking about buying a new server, you may want to consider investing in a virtual one instead. The advantage of this is that you’ll free up office space and save money on the upfront expense of an in-house server as well as its maintenance costs.

Cloud Computing, on the other hand, is not about individual assets, but instead is an operational model. Your business will run through the Cloud, where employees can create documents, interact with each other and customers, and even store files and data. The main advantage of the Cloud is that it increases operational efficiency and boosts organisational productivity.

Arguments for virtualizing

If you’re considering either the Cloud or Virtualization and have done neither, it makes sense to think about Virtualization first. With both Virtualization and the Cloud, you’re essentially changing the architecture of your business – from physical to virtual. Virtualization, however, is a small change, while Cloud Computing is a more dramatic one. If you opt for going all in with the Cloud right away, it may be a bit mind jarring for some of your staff as they get used to the new technology. And this could slow down their productivity. Virtualizing a few technology assets, instead of your entire workflow system, is an easier way to get a grasp of working with virtual technology for the first time.

A more fundamental reason to choose Virtualization is if you’re just looking to create more office space. In this case Virtualization is a no-brainer.

Arguments for the Cloud

If your organisation gets to the point of needing to add virtualized machines or servers quickly, the Cloud can automate this process. However, your IT department must be ready and willing to hand this process over to your end users.

Also, if your organisation has been using virtualized machines for some time or is simply ready to overhaul its workflow and operational process altogether, then the Cloud is likely a better fit for your business.

Which is the best choice for your business?

What it comes down to is operational efficiency (Cloud Computing) or saving money and space on individual assets (Virtualization). What’s more important to you?

And do you have a progressive organisation and staff that are ready to adapt to using virtual technologies? If not, then Virtualization may be the initial step you need to start changing your organisation’s infrastructure to compete in the modern business world.

Want to learn more about Virtualization and Cloud Computing? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 11th, 2015

Virtualization_B_164Virtualization...the very sound of the word may have you excited about the new opportunities it holds, or your heart pounding in fear of a foreign technology that sounds far too scary. Whatever the case, virtualization isn’t going anywhere. Thousands of businesses are taking advantage of its ability to cut costs and free up office space. If you’re thinking about taking your first step into the exciting world of virtualization, read on. We have some tips that will make the transition easier.

The key to successful virtualization is to not virtualize too much too quickly. Choose one or two items you’d like to test out, and then give it a go. By only focusing on virtualizing a few assets, you’ll be able to accurately measure how much your business is benefiting from virtualization.

Once you’ve decided to make the jump into virtualization, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Don’t virtualize for the sake of virtualizing

If you have 20 PCs running on an older operating system, but they are still producing results you’re happy with, it may be best to save your money and hold off on virtualization until you really have a need for it.

On the other hand, if you’ve been thinking about buying a new server, it may be smarter to consider getting a virtual server instead since the need is already there.

Understand the risks and challenges of virtualizing individual assets

Server, desktop and application vendors have unique and evolving licensing rules concerning virtualization. With vendor licensing audits becoming more and more frequent, you may be in for a major financial penalty if you’re not following the rules.

It’s been reported that one company saved $4 million in hardware expenses through virtualization. However, they lost $52 million for not remaining in compliance with the software licenses.

Try virtualizing more than one asset

If you start out only virtualizing your server and it doesn’t show immediate benefits, that doesn’t mean you should just give up on virtualization completely. The fact of the matter is that virtualization does save businesses millions of dollars every year in IT expenses, giving them a productivity boost in the process.

You can virtualize many physical assets of your business besides servers. This includes applications, laptop hardware, operating systems and more. All the virtualization process does is deliver these assets to you via the internet instead of having the physical product in your office. So if the server virtualization doesn’t work for you, maybe virtualizing another asset will.

Or it could simply be that your IT service provider is the real problem. Maybe you haven’t found the right virtualization vendor that works best for your business. The only way you’ll ever find out is if you don’t give up the first time you encounter a failure.

For more information about virtualization and how to effectively integrate it into your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 16th, 2014

Virtualization_Aug11_BWhile there are numerous tech systems available to small and medium size businesses, one of the most useful has proven to be virtualisation. This movement of physical systems to a virtual counterpart offers many benefits when implemented correctly. Administered poorly however and you could see systems fail. To help avoid this, it is worthwhile being aware of five common ways virtualisation fails.

1. Migration is forced before it is ready

One of the biggest reasons virtualisation fails is that it is pushed before the company is ready for it. For example, it could be that the IT team is forced to fast-track virtualisation, resulting in staff being forced to drop all other tasks and focus on migration.

If you rush, the chances of failure and mistakes always rise. And when it comes to changing systems from physical to virtual, mistakes can be compounded, thus increasing overall migration time and costs.

To avoid this you should take the time to conduct research on solutions available, workloads, applications to the move, and your specific business needs. Once you are across this, you should also take the time to get to know your systems and test them before migration.

2. Trying to implement a management plan after virtualising systems

Some companies decide to virtualise first, and then try to figure out how to manage systems after migration is complete. This will almost always result in inefficiencies and frustration as the pressure is on not just to learn how to manage but also how to use this solution.

In order to see a more successful virtualisation, you should have a management plan in place before you migrate your systems. You should look at how virtual machines will be managed, who will be doing what, as well as what systems you are going to use, and more. One of the best times to develop an overall management plan is when you are in the testing phase, well before actual migration. This will give you an idea of how systems will work in reality and how you can manage them.

3. Virtualisation without employee buy-in, or involving employees

We have seen companies implement a virtualisation solution without having full buy-in from the employees who will be using and managing the system. What this results in is confusion, resentment, lost efficiency, and, in some extreme situations, sabotage.

In order to successfully introduce a virtualised solution, you should ensure that all employees who will be using the system are not only aware of it but are trained on how to use it and have been given a fair chance to air their opinions. If you can achieve employee buy-in, there is a better chance that the systems will be used more effectively, and employees will be more open to other solutions being implemented.

4. Assuming one solution that works for others will work for you

An easy mistake to make is to only consider solutions successfully implemented by other businesses. The fact is, every business is different, and you should be looking for a solution that meets your specific needs.

If you go with a ready-made solution, or one-size-fits-all solution, it will likely work to some extent. However, there is a good chance that it will not completely meet your needs. This will likely result in either lost efficiency or increased investment in order to get what you need.

We recommend looking for a provider who can meet your virtualisation needs with tailor made solutions. This way you will get what you need straightaway and likely not need to invest more in the future.

5. Not managing your virtual solution after implementation

Unlike some tech solutions, virtualisation is not really a ‘set it and forget it’ type of solution. You will need to manage it from the start if you want to be able to get the most out of your systems. This includes ensuring resources are being allocated properly; machines are created and shut down properly; apps and systems are updated; and more.

While virtualised solutions do require less management than their physical counterparts, they still require some management and you will need people to help you do that. One of the best solutions is to work with an IT partner like us who can help manage your systems and ensure that they are working efficiently.

In fact, we offer a wide variety of virtualisation solutions. By working with us, we can help take some of the virtualisation load off and allow you to focus on running your business. If you would like to learn more, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
July 19th, 2014

Virtualization_July14_BVirtualization is the act of moving a physical component or bit of software from a physical environment to a digital one that is normally delivered over a network. This concept has become one of the most sought after tech improvements of the past decade, especially among small to medium businesses. The only problem is, virtualization is complex and carries with it some confusing terminology. To make things easier, we have created a glossary of ten common virtualization terms.

1. Virtual Machine (VM)

You will often hear virtualization experts bandy about the term VM. What they are talking about when they say this is the Virtual Machine. The VM is essentially a virtual representation of the computer on your desk. It can do everything a physical machine does, only everything is virtual and usually delivered over a network connection.

Because VMs are software based, you can often run more than one VM on the same physical machine. This could equate to having say two separate versions of Windows running at the same time, or even running a different operating system, say Windows on your MacBook.

2. Virtual server

A specific type of VM, in this case a server, that is running in a virtual environment. A common setup many offices employ is to have one physical server on premise. This server then hosts separate virtual servers that in turn host different services like email, networking, storage, etc.

Other businesses choose to rely completely on virtual servers. This is where another company hosts the servers which are delivered to you over the Internet. To the computers and users it appears the servers are there on your network, and can be interacted with normally when in truth, the servers are actually virtual.

3. Virtual desktop

Much like the virtual server, the virtual desktop is a specific type of VM. In this case, it is a virtually delivered version of an operating system like Windows, Linux or even OS X.

Since the advent of virtual desktops, the idea that companies have to stick with one type of operating system has started to become irrelevant. For example, if you own a Mac and need to access a Windows only program, one solution is to use a virtual version of Windows. If you have access to one, you will be able to run Windows from your Mac without having to physically install it on your computer.

4. Hypervisor

The hypervisor is essentially a small operating system that enables virtualization. Its job is to take physical hardware resources and combine them into a platform that is then delivered virtually to one, or many different users.

5. Host system

The host system, also referred to as the parent, is where the physical hardware and software is installed. These physical components are then copied by the hypervisor and delivered in a virtual state to the user. If you are creating a virtual desktop environment, then the host system will have the desktop's OS installed on it, along with the necessary software.

6. Guest system

The guest system, also referred to as the child, is where the VM is accessed. To carry the example on from above, the OS that is installed on the host machine is replicated by the hypervisor and the copy is then delivered to the user.

The user can interact with the OS just as they would with the physical host machine, because the guest system is an exact copy of the host. The only difference is, the guest machine is virtual instead of physical.

7. Virtual Infrastructure

When you combine a bunch of different types of VMs together into one solution, including hardware, storage, desktops, and servers you create a virtual infrastructure.

This can then be deployed to businesses who are looking for a completely virtualized solution. The easiest way to think of this is that your whole IT infrastructure is combined into one solution and virtualized. Many companies look for a solution like this because it reduces the need for on-premise hardware, while making it easier for an IT partner to manage.

8. P2V

P2V, or Physical to Virtual, is a term used by IT experts to refer to the act of migrating a physical system to a virtual one. The most common example of P2V is the merging of physical servers into a virtual environment that is hosted on one server.

9. Snapshot

A snapshot is an image of the state of the virtual machine at a specific point of time. This includes all of the data, configurations, and even windows or programs open at that time. Snapshots are used kind of like the Save button on video games - it saves your progress. When you next load up the VM, you will get all of your data, programs, and configurations back.

Snapshots are also kept in case something goes wrong with the VM. You can easily revert back to an older snapshot, one that was taken before the problem.

10. Clone

The action of taking one VM and creating an exact copy that can then be used by another computer or user.

If you are looking to learn more about virtualization, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 19th, 2014

virtualization_June17_BIn some cases, the value proposition that server virtualization offers business owners is a no-brainer. But for others, it might not be advisable. The real question is how do I identify if server virtualisation will save my business money? To make sure that you are fit to reap all the benefits of a virtual server, you must first make sure that server virtualisation is right for your business.

10 ways to identify if server virtualisation will save you money:

  1. Expert IT personnel: Some small businesses don’t have an IT person on the payroll, or if they do, that person deals with tasks such as security or desktop management which often means they are ill-equipped to deal with the technological sophistication that virtualisation demands. If you don’t have an IT expert, virtualising might not be right for you.
  2. Technology as core competence: If your company’s core competence is technology, or if you have lots of servers which require abundant storage and skilled IT veterans, server virtualisation is sure to help save your company money. Not only will you improve on storage efficiency, but you won’t have a payroll replete with lots of IT personnels.
  3. Busy servers: If your servers are taking up floor, rack or shelf space, or if they are dedicated to particular applications; your business is likely to save money through server virtualisation. Moreover, if your server equipment is aging, server virtualisation might help with significant server consolidation, meaning fewer servers, lower power bills and more floor space, too.
  4. Sensitive applications: Note that not all applications do well in virtual environments. Some critical or sensitive applications require a lot of processor or memory resources and you don’t want them sharing those resources with other virtual servers. Find out about your applications performance needs, if they’re not sensitive they may be ripe for a virtual server.
  5. Shared storage: Some people will tell you that virtual servers must have a virtual storage, however those themes usually come from vendors whose livelihoods are tied to virtual storage. If your business focuses on having a centralised storage that is shared between users, virtualisation can be very beneficial.
  6. Speed of deployment: Some businesses need to be able to provision servers rapidly since failure to do so is a distinct competitive disadvantage. If thats the case in your business, virtualisation is a must. Ordering a physical server and deploying it can take days if not weeks; unlike a virtual framework which once in place deployment can be done in no time.
  7. Server virtualisation test drive: Why not try virtualisation on a small scale before deciding if you should go all virtual? You can buy inexpensive tool such as VMware Workstation which costs around USD$199 for your IT staff to try out and see the potential value of server virtualisation.
  8. Do research: Even if you think you know all the basics about server virtualisation, be safe than sorry by doing more research before implementing anything. A good place to start is Virtualisation for Dummies. It provides a thorough basic understanding of the idea as well as what it can do for your business.
  9. Ignore server virtualisation hype: With so much hype around virtualisation these days it would be easy for some businesses to rush into. Don’t do that! Instead, do some research and analyze your business’ components and needs before deciding to go all virtual.
  10. Get help: Server virtualisation can be quite complicated, the good news is that vendors are making it much easier to deploy. If you decide to virtualize your servers, getting help from a reputable vendor can pay off in the long run. Most vendors offer solution bundles which include servers and storage pre-installed virtual servers for turnkey operation.

While server virtualisation proves to be an efficient and cost-effective solution for many businesses, the most important thing here is to not rush into a virtual server. Take a little time and go through a checklist to see if your business is right for the idea because if not, you’re likely to be losing both time and money. Looking to learn more about server virtualization? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
May 23rd, 2014

Virtualization_May19_BMost of us are familiar with cloud-based systems to some degree and are using them in one way or another. Still, the cloud is just part of a bigger picture - a technology that has become increasingly popular known as virtualization. Adopted as a solution by many businesses, the question is what is virtualization and when if ever should it be implemented.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization is the act of migrating physical systems into a virtual environment. In other words, it is the creation of a virtual version of a device or resource; anything from a server to an operating system. By providing a virtual view of computing resources, this allows you to turn one server into a host for a group of servers that all share the same resources.

How is it different from other systems?

With virtualization, you can instantly access nearly limitless computing resources which allow for faster and broader business capabilities. It also gets rid of haphazard IT rooms, cables, and bulky hardware; reducing your overall IT overhead as well as management costs.

While many look at virtualization as the cloud, in reality the cloud is just a part of virtualization. The most important function of virtualization is the capability of running multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer or server. This means increased productivity achieved by fewer servers. Virtualization can usually improve overall application performance due to technology that can balance resources, and provide only what the user needs.

When to virtualize?

Virtualization can be a solution for many businesses, but not for all. The key is to know exactly when to virtualize. Here are four situations where a business could virtualize systems:
  • Virtualize if you rely on technology - Companies that rely on technology often use several servers and technology from hardware like laptops and networks. Basically, if your company needs technology to operate, virtualization can help you reduce the overall operation costs.
  • Virtualize if your company exceeds 20 employees - Many tech experts agree that there is no need for virtualization if you have a business with less than 10-20 employees. With that number, traditional servers are usually more than enough to cater to your needs.
  • Virtualize if you can cover the costs - While virtualization is meant to reduce costs, like any modern technology it requires an initial investment. The cost of virtualization can be high for smaller businesses to implement, however you do have an option of working with an IT partner like us. We can help you realize cost-savings or even a Return On Investment (ROI). For companies with servers in place, virtualization can be as simple as installing a free program.
  • Virtualize if you want space - Certain business operators throw away a big chunk of their money on an extra room to house large server racks, wires or even IT personnel to maintain them. The issue here is the cost of maintenance, as well as limited office space. In this situation, virtualization can help make better use of space while reducing hardware costs.
There are several reasons as to why many businesses look into virtualization. Like any type of technology, it’s a tradeoff between practicality and money. If you think you’re ready to move your systems to a virtual world or are looking to learn more about virtualization solutions, contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 28th, 2014

Virtualization_Feb24_BOften described as the future of business systems, virtualization has taken the world of IT to greater heights than ever before. With the advent of virtualization, businesses can now optimize their systems. In addition, this innovation allows them to do what they have never been able to do before, such as centralizing the control of the business environment, and a whole lot more.

While it may seem like virtualization is only advantageous to large businesses, in truth, even small companies can take advantage of this rising and sophisticated innovation. That being said, there are many companies still holding back. To help you understand virtualization, here are five good reasons why you need to virtualize your business now.

You can optimize servers

Perhaps the most compelling reason to virtualize your systems is to make your computing resources (such as the RAM and processor cycles) more efficient. And with efficient computing resources, businesses can reduce their capital expenses. Furthermore, small and mid-sized business are able to manage fewer physical servers, because virtualization allows users to combine, or virtualize, physical servers into fewer physical machines.

You get cutting-edge disaster recovery plans

Since catastrophes are possible, businesses should be prepared before they are faced with a disaster. The advantage of virtualization is that many solutions come with a disaster recovery plan to get your business back to a normal operational state after a problem strikes.

It can be far easier to fully back up your entire virtualized infrastructure than trying to do the same with separate hardware servers.

It increases business continuity

While business continuity is similar to disaster recovery, the goals of each operation are different. The aim of business continuity is to achieve zero, or minimal, business operation interruptions. However, many businesses find this difficult to achieve with traditional business systems.

Many virtualization solutions offer live migration, a feature that helps preserve the continuity of business operations by eliminating the need for downtime. This system works by rapidly transferring systems from one virtual environment to another when the original is affected. This enables a business to continue operations, despite some system failures.

It's a time-saver

Compared to setting up physical hardware, which can take months to establish, test, and maintain, setting up a virtualized system for your business can usually be achieved in a matter of minutes.

You get centralized control

Virtualization makes it possible to manage your entire system using one central tool. This is one cutting-edge advantage that suits many businesses, especially small and mid-sized ones. Moreover, security and compliance features can be built in, leading to systems that are even more secure than before.

The benefits to be gained by virtualizing can prove to be a real game changer for your business. Though it may seem complex at first, considering the new lingo and foreign functions, you’ll soon realize that it's just a matter of finding the right IT partner to work with.

Our virtualization experts are here for you and can help you from start to finish. If you want to know more about virtualization and its benefits to your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 1st, 2014

Virtualization_Jan27_BOne of the more common trends among small to medium businesses is the moving of physical systems to a virtual environment. This concept, commonly referred to as virtualization, will continue to be a draw for businesses for the immediate future and beyond. As with traditional systems however, businesses will still need to back up their virtualized data, which is a process many may not be considering or doing.

About data virtualization

Data virtualization is an approach to data management that takes data stored on local computers and moves it to another location, usually a server. This can provide multiple long-term benefits to businesses, some of which include integration of various types of data, minimizing data replication, and reducing physical data movement across different locations, as well as delivering sets of data to consumers in real-time.

As with every other type of data you will need to consider backing up your data. This can be a bit tougher with virtualized data. While our services do make things easier, there are still backup obstacles you should be aware of. In this guide, we highlight the three challenges and hurdles in backing up your virtualized data.

Overwhelming rapid file growth

It used to be that businesses had to worry about servers containing million of files. Now, they are warned about potentially billions of existing files. It is almost impossible to back up servers with so many files through the traditional method of copying one file at a time, as is common in legacy backup systems. The thing is, the number of files to back up is only going to grow.

You should take steps to ensure that your backup solution can handle the file growth your business will face. While a virtual solution may be working now, it is a good idea to check with your IT partner to ensure their systems are scalable.

Rapid server growth

Virtualization of networks, storage, and servers brings flexibility to the small businesses and data centers. The advent of virtualization has lead to the development of an 'app mentality' among many users and business owners. It’s safe to think that so many things you have in the world are now apps, with many being delivered through a virtual machine.

What this means for businesses is an increasing number of virtual servers that are needed to host your virtual solutions. Therefore, it is crucial to protect these virtual machines and the servers that host them because they are quickly becoming the most essential tool your business relies on. If your business is growing, your current virtual machines are likely backed up, but as you add more servers you will need to ensure that these are also backed up.

Very high user expectations

Needless to say, users have high expectations caused by misunderstandings about technology, and virtualization in particular. Users expect their IT partners to have emerging issues resolved in an instant or as quickly as possible.

While backup speeds are increasing year-on-year, it still takes time to copy data files from the backup servers, especially when the quantity of files to copy can be over a billion. It is worthwhile talking with your IT partner about backup and recovery times so you can better know what to expect when you do need to recover virtual systems.

If you have anything to share about data virtualization or virtualization in general, let your voice be heard using the comment section below.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 7th, 2013

Virtualization_Dec02_BA common tech term often uttered by tech experts and indeed many business is 'cloud'. It is often accompanied with the word 'virtualization'. These two terms have led many users to believe that they are interchangeable, when in fact they have actually quite different meanings. This can lead to confusion with all parties involved and even lead to companies making poor decisions.

What is virtualization?

At its most basic, virtualization is the creation of a virtual version of something. This virtual version is housed in a physical environment, usually a server or computer. It allows one device (server) to run multiple computing environments at the same time.

Some examples of virtualization include:

  • Condensing four servers in an office down to one which runs all four.
  • Using one server to host software that 10 computers can access.
  • Installing Windows 7 on a Macbook.
One of the biggest benefits companies see from virtualizing is maximization of the use of resources, such as networks, computers, and servers; along with providing increased flexibility.

What is the cloud?

The cloud, on the other hand, is more of an umbrella term to cover any service that is delivered over the Internet. There are numerous cloud services, most of which can fit one of three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service.

Some examples of cloud computing include:

  • Using software like Google Apps or Microsoft Office Web Apps.
  • Accessing your email through the Web.
  • Storing files on a cloud-storage provider like DropBox.
The cloud carries most of the same benefits as virtualization, but can also further streamline the management of systems. Most cloud systems can be managed in a browser and can reduce the total cost of ownership for organizations.

Do the two overlap?

Where much of the confusion about the two terms stems from is the fact that there is actually quite a bit of overlap between the two concepts. Without the ability to virtualize servers, the cloud would not be able to operate.

Think about it this way: A cloud storage provider uses servers in a data center to host their storage. Without virtualization, the provider would essentially need one server per client or per group of clients. With many popular storage providers having millions of users, they would need to have an obscene amount of servers. So what they do is virtualize multiple servers and house them in one server. In other words, virtualization allows the cloud to function.

It's important to realize that the cloud is still reliant on servers, just as virtualization is. The main difference is that when companies virtualize, they usually host the servers on-site. When companies go 'to the cloud', they usually connect via the Internet to servers that are hosted off-site (outside of the organization).

Which is better for small businesses?

The main reason many companies virtualize their systems is so that they can reduce the number of servers and the physical space required to house each server. This in turn can reduce overheads. Virtualization also enables server resources to be better utilized, because when you host only one function e.g., email on a server, the hardware resources used are likely to be only a fraction of the total resources available. This results in increased efficiency and likely reduced costs.

Most companies tend to think of the cloud as a system - it provides end-users a service that they can use e.g., a word processor and document management system you access via your browser. Essentially, the cloud gives many small businesses access to enterprise level applications at a fraction of the cost - they don't have to develop, host and maintain these applications, yet see all the usability and benefits.

Because virtualization is usually local, while the cloud is seen to be more of a service, there is no real answer as to which is better - it really depends on the individual organization. If your business already has servers and systems which deliver capabilities like email, document sharing, telephony, etc. in place, then virtualization may be better employed, largely because it can help reduce your overhead and increase resource efficiency.

On the other hand, if you are a new company, or are looking to introduce a new system like document storage or production, a cloud service might well be a valuable option to look into.

Regardless of what you think would be best for your company, why not get in touch with us? Our experts can work with you to help you find the solution that best fits your company. Give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.