The major technological advance known as virtualization has delivered tremendous advantages to the SMBs that have adopted it, but like most forward leaps in computing, these advantages bring with them some new challenges to surmount. When it comes to virtualization, some of the largest challenges concern electrical power consumption and VM management.
Many Eggs in One Basket
The nature of a virtualized environment means that a single physical host will become responsible for supporting many virtual machines. Ratios of 1:20 or even 1:40 are common. While this does present a small or medium-sized business with tremendous cost savings in terms of its hardware profile, it can also mean that all their eggs are in one basket, so to speak. If the physical machine hosting the VMs experiences a power problem, an entire office may find itself going offline.
Electrical Infrastructure Lacks Flexibility
One of the hallmarks of virtualization is the sheer flexibility it offers business networks. An application or even a service can be cloned at will as well as moved among platforms, and these functions can be performed even while the service or application is currently in use.
Unfortunately, this high level of flexibility is not mirrored in the electrical infrastructure. As a VM migrates among physical hosts, it can be difficult to trace the status of its power protection. This creates vulnerability in the system; should there be a blackout or a brownout in the power infrastructure serving the company, it can lead a disruption of workflow. Companies attempt to protect themselves from this through the use of IT solutions such as the UPS, uninterruptible power supply. However, small and medium-sized businesses may not be able to implement the kinds of tracking systems needed to be sure that all VMs are continuously being protected against both power outages and surges, both of which can play havoc with the physical hosts supporting VMs in use.
Many SMBs have an IT staff that is capable of maintaining a physical server's operating system. With virtualization, however, IT support needs become far more complex. Servers must now be managed not only at the host hardware level but also at the hypervisor level and at the level of the virtual machines being maintained by the physical host. Relatively few SMBs possess an IT staff that can readily transition to the very different support needs that are characteristic of the virtualized environment.
These power and management challenges mean that the best virtualization solution for many SMBs is one that involves extensive use of outsourced IT. Companies such as iCorps can remotely manage and maintain your virtualized environment and can assume hosting functions, thereby freeing you of responsibility for the power management challenges associated with virtualization.