When the internet was new, early adopters had very little idea of just how far ranging its applications would become. What seemed at first to be an information repository, sort of a virtual encyclopedia-on-demand, quickly morphed into far more, offering functions as diverse as streaming video, online shopping carts, and real-time stock tickers. Virtualization is a similar technology in this sense: it can actually be used to accomplish diverse objectives, all of which prove to be of huge benefit to small and medium-sized businesses.
Perhaps the most widespread use of virtualization is to improve resource availability so that both managers and workers can process their daily workflow efficiently. Virtualization makes it possible to assign system resources such as CPU processing time and storage space on a dynamic basis, meaning that its resource allocations can change from hour to hour and even from minute to minute.
This eliminates the ‘old-school’ problem of each employee having access only to a specified portion of the central server's hard drive. In that paradigm, a worker who needed extra space had no simple way to grab it from a co-worker's allocation, even if that co-worker was only using a small fraction of his or her allocated space. Gaining additional space required system adjustments that could only be done by on-site IT consultants.
With virtualization, those days are long gone. In a virtualized system, the central management platform assigns resources to workers according to their current activities, making sure that everyone is as fully provisioned as possible within the inherent constraints of the virtualized infrastructure that has been set up.
The Greening of American Business
Virtualization also helps businesses to attain green objectives. These are helpful to the environment, but they can also be key to a public relations effort promoting the company as a responsible steward of scarce natural resources. A typical system that once included 10 systems, each with its own electrical draw, can now be virtualized so that only two physical hosts are running. This represents a huge savings not only for the environment but also for the bottom line since electricity can be a significant cost for many organizations.
IT services used to spend countless hours installing software and adjusting settings on a per-machine basis in an effort to guarantee that each employee's system would be standardized according to a company protocol. This work can all be done automatically and seamlessly with software that can deploy ‘cloned’ virtual machines that arrive fully standardized from the start.
Companies interested in virtualization should seek out a managed services provider to explore their options, which include both Citrix and VMware platforms for the technology.