Using Virtualization to Strengthen Your IT Infrastructure

During daily operations at the average company, computer hardware is dramatically underutilized and inefficiently run.  Workplaces across a wide variety of industries can now benefit from implementing virtualization practices in their computer departments. As a manager, business owner, or IT professional, using virtualization techniques at your company will strengthen your IT infrastructure and bolster your bottom line.

While servers and computers traditionally run from a single operating system, virtualization expands the potential of that single computer to run multiple operating systems simultaneously. This is accomplished through the use of a hypervisor, a piece of computer hardware, firmware, or software that runs virtual machines. Using a hypervisor, a single server or computer can run several operating systems and support a wider variety of software programs and a larger volume of memory storage. Virtualization is similar to having multiple machines working at once or allowing access to multiple machines from one single piece of hardware.

One of the advantages of using virtualization to strengthen your IT infrastructure is a dramatic increase in efficiency. Companies utilizing virtualization technology enjoy more significant returns on their investments in computer hardware because they get more out of each device. With virtualization, a company can reduce its number of servers and computers, thus saving money on equipment purchases, reducing maintenance costs, and shrinking required storage space.

In addition, when virtualization is implemented, software upgrades, operating system changes, and fixes of computer or server malfunctions happen more easily and more quickly. Virtualization also allows the centralization of IT management, which can add to overall business efficiency.

Additionally, virtualization offers advantages in security and energy efficiency. For example, with virtualization, servers and computers are less susceptible to hazards such as computer viruses. While a computer virus on a machine using virtualization may destroy one “virtual machine” or operating system, the other “virtual machines” are unharmed. Virtualization also reduces energy costs because fewer machines are running at one time.

Virtualization is a broad term that includes network virtualization, server virtualization, and storage virtualization. Each of these types of virtualization offers its own advantages that strengthen your IT infrastructure.

Network virtualization consolidates network resources to break down the complexity of a network into manageable parts. Bandwidth is separated into individual channels that can be assigned to different servers or devices by the network administrator.

Server virtualization benefits end-users by shielding them from the complications of dealing with server resources that they don’t need and/or don’t understand. While simplifying the use of the server for employees, server virtualization still allows the sharing of resources by different end-users.

One of the most important benefits of the virtualization concept comes from storage virtualization. Storage virtualization combines the available storage space from several devices into one storage location, which makes data migration, backups, archiving and recovery of data significantly easier.

Virtualization is likely to gain popularity in the coming years as more and more companies take advantage of the increases in efficiency and the cost savings it offers. Using virtualization to strengthen your IT infrastructure is a good idea regardless of your industry. Entities as diverse as educational facilities, healthcare providers, and distribution centers use virtualization to optimize organization operations. Without using virtualization techniques, companies are likely going to suffer losses due to underutilized computer hardware resources and unnecessary expenses associated with obsolete IT tasks.

  1. Virtualization is a great way to take advantage of unused resources – but, if you intend to repurpose existing servers as virtualization hosts, make sure that you check the hardware compatibility lists (HCL) for the hypervisors you’re considering to verify that the servers are supported, and that the hypervisor has the features that you want. However, even if the servers aren’t on the HCL for the hypervisor you select, you may still save enough on facilities and maintenance costs that buying new hardware to support virtualization is worthwhile.

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