Today, I got a fax on the beach and the beach wasn’t even there.
Virtualization has always been one of the cornerstone technologies here at Kincaid Network Solutions. It seems that virtualization drives every computer room and data center across the globe these days. The economies of scale are enormous when a single PC or host can efficiently and securely run many different server and workstation loads. The savings are immediately evident in hardware costs, but also can save businesses enormous power costs over the long haul. While this makes plenty of sense when you have thousands of servers, maybe hundreds or even a few dozen, how far can you really scale down a virtualization solution for a small to medium sized business?
Benefits of Virtualized Environments
At Kincaid Network Solutions, we have experience building and supporting virtualized environments that range from enterprise systems with N+1 redundancy in every aspect all the way down to entry systems that are inexpensive enough to be almost free (sorry, there is no coupon at the bottom for a free server). Having said that, I firmly believe that there are benefits to running even a single server in a virtual environment especially if there is any chance of growth. Unused memory, CPU and storage can always be quickly put into use by additional server or workstation workloads.
Even if you do not expect growth in your computer needs, virtualization can also have benefits in stability alone. One of the most challenging tasks for any IT professional is continually upgrading server hardware and operating systems. In a virtual environment, however, you can move your server to a new hardware with limited effort as the drivers generally remain the same. Even with the many automated backup and recovery solutions for a stand-alone server, there are still more challenges present than simply migrating a virtual server to a new host.
How much will it cost?
The question most frequently asked is how much more it will cost to put this all in place rather than just buying a stand-alone server. The good news is that there are several inexpensive entry level versions of most virtualization systems and in many cases, there are even free versions, but with limitations of course. For example, VMware offers a free version of ESXi and there are even a few free backup products available. The initial cost to set up a virtual host should not be any more than a stand-alone server, as there are less issues with drivers. More important, because the cost of recovering backups and upgrading hardware is less, you can often recover any investment the first time any hardware needs to be replaced.
For one Kincaid client, we used entry-grade Supermicro server hardware with proper redundancy where it counts such as RAID and power supplies. Using a free version of VMware ESXi, the community supported ghettoVCB.sh backup solution and an inexpensive NAS from QNAP, we built a solution that met a tight initial budget with plenty of room to grow into non-free upgrades.
In conclusion, I would like to leave you with this: at Kincaid Network Solutions, we work with several virtualization technology providers including one of our primary partners, VMware. This week Kincaid elevated our status with VMware to Enterprise level which is the second highest level of partnership. This strengthens our relationship with VMware and will provide us with further tools, resources and discounts ultimately benefiting our clients. If you are in the market for virtualization, contact Kincaid Network Solutions. We’re keeping IT simple!
Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on Google+.