We come into contact with servers nearly every day when we go online, but what about using servers to power your business? If you have more than a handful of employees, it probably makes sense to look into getting a server. “But wait,” you might say, “I don’t want to invest in an expensive server if I only have a few people accessing the network.” I hear you loud and clear, and that’s why server virtualization is an exciting technology you can take advantage of. But before we get into the details of server virtualization, let’s talk about how servers are used in everyday businesses.
What is a server anyway?
At its core, a server is just a computer that users can access remotely. That’s why it’s called a “server”, because it serves up data to users. If you’ve accessed a website, then you’ve seen a server in action. When you direct your computer to a certain page (by typing in the URL), then you’re requesting the page from the server that hosts it. The server makes the connection, and serves you up a hot and fresh webpage ready for browsing. If you have a business, you’re probably looking to do more than just host webpages. You’re likely looking for a way to reliably link your workstations, provide added security between users, and protect your data.
Why should I be using a server?
Many businesses do, but here’s why they’re putting themselves at risk. Some business owners figure that any desktop computer that would otherwise be gathering dust can be repurposed for use as a server. But if it’s not reliable enough to use as your own computer, why would it be reliable as a server? Additionally, servers are usually running 24/7 and are more prone to breakdown from wear and tear. An older computer probably can’t handle such a demanding schedule, and might break down when you least expect it. Dedicated servers are built to last, and are much less likely to break down than a desktop computer. Additionally, servers use specific server operating systems (like Windows Server 2016), unlike desktop systems (that could use Windows 10 instead). Servers also have an advantage when it comes time to upgrade. Many servers will allow you to swap physical components in and out without having to shut down your server, which means less downtime when compared to a desktop running a server OS.
What does server virtualization do for me?
Ok, you’re convinced that servers can be a powerful tool. But perhaps they’re too powerful for a small business? Many servers have technical specifications that can exceed the needs of a company with five employees. How do we best utilize all that power? This is where server virtualization comes in.
Server virtualization allows a server to be split into “virtual environments” that act like servers within a server. Why would you want to split up a server in this way? Let’s say you have a $10,000 server for your business. Expensive, sure, but you’re proud you made a good investment in your company. While that’s a noble endeavor, you’re likely not using the full capacity of the server. If you’re using only a portion of the computing power, then giving other people access to your server would make sense. Not only could you use the full power of your server, but you can lower the cost by splitting it with other users.
Server virtualization gives you peace of mind
Allowing people to access your server might make sense financially, but what about your data security? Wouldn’t allowing people on your server give them access to your files? Fortunately, server virtualization has us covered there. Virtual environments within a server are completely separate from other servers. Virtual servers can use the same physical machine but won’t have any access to each other. If one virtual server gets a virus, it won’t affect the others that are hosted on the same server. What’s more, if there’s an issue with the host server, then a network administrator can move a virtual machine from one host to another without any downtime for the users that are connected to it.
Server virtualization is an extremely useful tool in an IT administrator’s belt. Be sure to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of virtualizing your server with your IT support team at the next opportunity.