- By Spencer Taylor
- Published 03/26/2012
There is a great deal of buzz these days about virtualisation within the IT world. In a nutshell, the term describes the creation of a virtual version of actual resources.
The different types of virtualisation cover hardware, software, desktops, memory, storage, data and networks.
To help you decide whether it’s the best way forward for your company, this guide will explore the advantages and disadvantages of virtualisation, as well as explaining how it differs from cloud technology.
Virtualisation versus Cloud
To clarify virtualisation further, let’s firstly explore the difference between virtualisation and cloud technology, since the two are often confused in the general population’s mind.
The term cloud basically describes a scalable platform where you can store your data plus build and run applications via the Internet. Cloud technology mobilises all applications so that you can remotely access your business data through any device that has Internet access – provided you have the security clearance.
Data centre suppliers who use cloud software offer a service package to clients so they can access and modify the information held on their servers in a secure environment and in any part of the world. A cloud host provides the hardware and hosting facilities that each client requires.
In contrast, virtualisation is a technique of creating a virtual pool of servers, operating systems, storage devices and network resources. It allows a single user to access multiple physical devices at the same time using a centralised, convenient operating system.
Virtualisation allows for each business to completely control their IT functions through a single point of operation. For example, you could run a very large application even though your company’s system isn’t big enough to support it. The way this works is that your IT system interacts with the other systems connected to the virtualisation network, notes which system is available and then uses part of the available system’s resources in addition to your own to run the application. Thus, your business can effectively harness the power of a much larger resource.
In addition, virtualisation lets you install a piece of software only once to enable your entire workforce to access it – so gone are the days of your IT staff manically running around trying to install software on everyone’s desktop or mobile device. This also does away with the cost of multiple licences to make the software available to your staff, and the same goes for storage resources because there is no data duplication occurring.
Thus, all in all, while virtualisation to an extent makes the cloud operable, it is a very different kettle of fish.
Benefits of Virtualisation
The primary advantage of virtualisation is the ability to reduce the many into the one. This not only simplifies things radically as described above, it will also bring significant savings on resources and storage requirements.
In addition, virtualisation allows for massive savings on operational costs, not least on power usage which will have a major impact towards a more friendly approach to the environment.
Another important benefit of this technology is that it makes functions such as backups, system recovery and system migration much more convenient. Virtualisation can also be implemented in real-time, so it causes no loss of employee productivity.
A recent report has further stated that virtualisation is effective at solving cloud hosting integration issues and help speed up data delivery times.
Disadvantages of Virtualisation
The drawback of virtualisation boils down to the fact that a virtual environment is a shared environment. This means that because your hosting account uses many virtual machines, if the performance of one machine is affected then all the machines run by the same host will be affected too. This could possibly lead to slow down times or the inability to access your account for certain periods of time.
In addition, there are certain limitations inherent to this method which need to be considered before taking the virtualisation route. One of these is that when scanning or defragmentation is taking place, it can cause an entire system to slow down. Secondly, when files are deleted on virtual disks the space is not always made available again, resulting in wasted space.
Virtualisation offers exciting new IT frontiers as well as the potential for businesses to enjoy massive savings. While it involves certain risks as with any technology, if you choose a reliable provider who specialises in virtualisation, they will be able to provide fail-safe solutions to suit your individual needs. Reputable companies with a successful track record in virtualisation implementation such as 365iT services advise that every company who is currently considering using virtualisation needs to have a thorough consultation about what it can deliver – some businesses might do better using virtualisation only for data storage, while others might benefit from applying virtualisation to all their IT resources.
About the Author: Spencer Taylor is an independent IT journalist.