5 things to love about virtualisation

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Virtualising your IT environment makes it cheaper and easier to deploy new capabilities to your stakeholders. By concentrating your storage and compute on servers (often hosted by a cloud provider), and deploying virtual machines (VMs) to users, you can reduce the cost of your desktop machines, centralise management and deployment, simplify security and governance, and offer new capabilities faster.

Here, then, are five reasons why you should virtualise – and two reasons why you shouldn’t.

1: Reduced cost

Virtualised environments immediately reduce your capital costs, as you’re no longer paying for hardware upfront. Additionally, when you virtualise you’ll reduce the number of servers in your datacentres, reducing power consumption and cooling requirements. In short, you need fewer resources to run your servers and this means lower costs.

2: Increased flexibility

Virtual environments allow you to run multiple operating systems on the same hardware. This can extend the life of legacy applications without the cost and complexity of maintaining ageing hardware. More importantly, it means you can hold onto applications that are custom-programmed or hard to replace without holding back the rest of your IT services.

3: Better continuity

Virtual machine ‘snapshots’ make disaster recovery cheap and easy. So long as you have the right backup technology, you can simply replace a failed instance with the most recent ‘safe’ snapshot’ and resume operations.

Much of this process can be automated and there are advanced options that allow you to redeploy a server on another host machine without incurring downtime. Development and test environments can be cloned from live environments at the push of a button, so you can test without buying extra hardware or interfering with production.

4: Faster scaling

Virtualised environments are simple (and quick) to scale up or down. For example, if a server needs more processing power and memory, you can simply allocate more resources to it – there’s no need to physically add RAM or CPUs, as you would with a physical server.

This means your business can respond in real time to operational needs. Better still, if your cloud infrastructure features consumption-based pricing and is set up to automatically spawn new instances to cope with demand, then you’ll only pay for the processing power and bandwidth that you actually need.

5: Improved automation

Automation is a key feature of virtual environments as it allows your business to respond in real time to changing patterns of use and demand. Provisioning a new server, automating failover and scaling resources is very simple when you use the latest virtualisation control panels. Most maintenance tasks can be managed through the console and set up to run by themselves, across any number of instances.

2 reasons NOT to virtualise

1. Your business isn’t ready for it

If you run a small business or a relatively simple server environment, then you may not need to virtualise. Server virtualisation can save you money, but as with any project there are setup costs. There is no point in virtualising your environment if you can't pay for the tools and management systems required to support the technology.

2. Your licenses don't allow it

Some software licenses simply don't allow them to be run on virtual machines. You don't want to be doing anything that breaches your software license agreement so be sure to check your entitlements before you virtualise.

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