Erik Johnson (Global) - What Does Virtualization Mean for Your Business?

Erik Johnson, VP of product maketing at Epicor Software, explores the impact of virtualization in this blog post.

With so many benefits it is easy to see why so many companies and businesses are making the change over to a virtual IT environment. It is especially beneficial to multinational organizations that need to centralize data and systems such as their ERP software which runs their global business activities and streamlines operations.
Server virtualization inserts a layer of separation between the physical server hardware and the software that runs on the server. The physical machine is translated into one or more virtual machines. Each virtual machine runs its own operating system and applications, and each utilizes an allocated portion of the server's processing resources such as CPU, memory, network access and storage space.

This has set a trend in storage virtualization, network virtualization, and workload management. This trend is part of the growth of autonomic computing where a server is able to manage itself based on the level of activity it experiences. Server centralization through virtualization: maximizes the use of resources; improves server availability; centralizes backups and recovery; makes testing and development easier; and makes it possible for management and support to happen from any location.

Of the benefits of a virtual platform, one of the single biggest advantages is improved hardware utilization. Rather than deploying numerous servers that may not be fully utilized, server virtualization allows multiple virtual machines to operate on the same physical platform. This reduction in hardware and electricity costs is very attractive to organizations wanting to cut back on operating costs or reduce their carbon footprint.

Added to this is the ease of management of a centralized system which make response times to problems almost instant and fault finding is made simple from one central point. This follows on to activities like daily maintenance, regular backups and the restoration of data if any losses occur.

When compared to the advantages of virtualization the disadvantages seem to be of little consequence since they can be overcome through skilled IT management. However they cannot be ignored completely.  The fact that one physical server may have 50 virtual servers running on it means that a hardware failure could spell disaster unless proper backups have been maintained. The knock-on effect of hardware failure means that every server stored could also go down.

The single most important factor in the success of a virtual environment lies in the planning, implementation and management of virtual servers. If planned and managed properly an organization is guaranteed almost zero downtime. This optimizes hardware performance, improves organizational efficiency and maximizes the use of resources.

By Erik Johnson, vice president product marketing, Epicor Software