Virtualisation is not just for large enterprises anymore. SMEs are rapidly adopting virtualisation and achieving significant benefits in a number of areas.
Small businesses often don’t have the budget to take on full-time IT staff or invest in complex and expensive IT systems. However, their fundamental IT needs are exactly the same as any other business, just on a smaller scale. Small businesses need solutions that are built with budget in mind, are simple in their architecture, can be managed and maintained easily but are still rich in functionality and innovation.
Virtualisation allows businesses to uncouple applications, desktops, servers and data from being dependent on any one physical device, maximising productivity, hardware utilisation rates and business continuity plans as well as helping streamline the business.
Specifically, SMEs are benefitting from…
1. Lower Infrastructure Running Costs
Infrastructure as a Service allows you to rent compute power and software licences, hosted on a multi-tenanted platform in a secure, purpose built, highly available data centre on a month by month basis. Provisioning IT in this way gives your business the benefit of Enterprise Class services for a fraction of the cost and with little or no capital expenditure.
2. Simplified IT Management & Administration
Virtualising IT infrastructure can help IT managers spend less time on routine admin tasks, such as adding and managing new server workloads, adding new employees or developing and launching new applications, thus enabling businesses to be more responsive to business needs. According to a VMware survey, SMBs that have implemented virtualisation reported productivity gains, with 73% seeing significant improvements in time spent on routine administrative tasks.
3. Workforce Mobility & Productivity
Flexibility is key in today’s working environments, and application virtualisationcentralises the installation of user applications, so that they can be more easily deployed and maintained to large groups of users spread across many locations. Workforce mobility allows information workers to access desktops and applications from any location, on any device and over any connection. This maximises both productivity and return on IT investment.
4. Improved Business Responsiveness
Virtualisation provides the flexibility to scale to meet business demand. Buying onpremise means you have to build the platform with a number of users in mind, and growing that usually means adding hardware/licenses, which takes time. You can end up with a platform built for 100 people (even though you only have 50) therefore wasting half the build. With a virtualised environment, however, the system grows gradually as you increase resource – matching your growth more closely and reducing waste. Also, if you need to downsize (sell off, redundancy) you aren’t left with loads of useless hardware that still needs to be warrantied etc.
5. Business Continuity & Reduction in Downtime
Business continuity solutions allow staff to continue to do their jobs undisrupted by unplanned downtime, scheduled maintenance of IT systems or a total loss of site. Business continuity plans are often a pre-requisite for vertical industry compliance and governance, and can lower business continuity insurance policy costs. Virtualisation can provide business continuity preparedness due to improved application availability and data protection, therefore dramatically shortening any possible downtime.
6. Simplified Server Environment
Most servers operate less than 15 percent of capacity. Not only is this highly inefficient, it also introduces server sprawl and complexity. However, the architecture of today’s servers allows multiple operating systems to run on a single physical server as virtual machines, each with access to the underlying server’s computing resources. It enables drastic physical server reduction and consolidation, and a more cost-efficient, agile and simplified server environment.
7. Disaster Recovery Preparedness
Virtualised infrastructure provides rapid and reliable recovery without requiring identical hardware and enables server consolidation so that you can cut costs of both production and disaster recovery. The files that make up a virtual machine can be recovered to any hardware without requiring any changes because virtual machines are hardware-independent. It allows you to automate the disaster recovery process and ensure that it is executed rapidly and correctly, and makes it possible for you to easily and cost-effectively test your disaster recovery plan so that you can ensure that it is reliable.
8. Desktop Virtualisation (VDI)
Also known as ‘thin client computing’, this solution removes local desktop operating systems and centralises the delivery of them for an entire user desktop. Advantages of desktop virtualisationcompared to traditional desktop computing include data security (data is stored in the data centre rather than on the local device), manageability, wide device support (you can run a virtual desktop on a BYOD tablet or a smartphone if you want to), easier backup and disaster recovery, and lower operational costs (client device troubleshooting, for example).
9. Secure Storage
With analytics and Big Data becoming a fundamental aspect of enterprise IT, storage has never been more important. Virtualisation provides IT managers with a great deal of freedom, enabling them to insert a layer of software — a storage hypervisor — which allows for the provision of virtual pools of efficiently utilised network storage. This effectively reduces hardware and eliminates wasted physical storage space. As the total amount of used physical storage goes up, more disk space can be easily added without the need to move data or resize data volumes.
10. Energy Reduction & Green IT Policies
Migrating physical servers over to virtual machines and consolidating them onto far fewer physical servers can have a significant impact on energy outgoings as it can dramatically reduce the amount of power, space and cooling required to run a company’s IT system. The reduction in hardware also means that there will be less to dispose of in the future, which helps contribute to creating an environmentally friendly business.