Big, expensive, heat producing, noise generating servers are necessary evils in the field. At least, they have been until now. The new era in business is all about getting rid of those clunky old servers and trading them in for something shinier, sleeker, and far more efficient to manage data.
What Virtualization Means for the IT Industry
You don’t need pithy explanations about what it is. What you do need to understand, however, is that virtualization brings many benefits to the table, no one even dared to dream about in the world of IT as few as ten years ago. Well, perhaps they dreamed about it, but no one believed it was possible — at least not at the time.
Now we’re facing a world where the possibilities of technology have once again become limitless. It’s a good idea to explore what it offers in the present before you begin to consider the ramifications it represents for the future. These are just a few ways virtualization allows you to manage data intelligently in order to drive efficiency.
Reduces utility costs – The reductions aren’t limited to the direct costs of power consumption. They also extend to the costs associated with protecting the server environment (primarily keeping the server room cool year round – much less having a dedicated room for server equipment) and hiring adequate IT staff to maintain servers, too.
Requires fewer on-site servers – The bulk of actual data is stored offsite once you make the move to a virtual environment. This saves the company money on servers and server maintenance and requires less space set aside for the bulky equipment.
Recover data quickly in the aftermath of disasters – Widespread natural disasters, such as hurricanes Sandy and Katrina or the Joplin, MO tornado cause massive logistical nightmares when it comes to securing and recovering data. Even smaller events, such as fires or theft, however, can present major headaches when attempting to reconstruct or recover data.
In some cases, you’re never able to recover all the data. Using the cloud to store your information protects your data with backups and redundancies in place to ensure that even widespread disasters leave the data protected.
Reduce waste – The reduction of the bulk of your business’ paper waste is one of the first things you’re likely to notice once you make the move to a virtual environment. While it doesn’t eliminate all traces of paper in the business, without significant effort on your part, it can greatly reduce the amount of paper your business consumes.
Exercise greater management control – Virtual environments place more control in the hands of management. Management not only controls who has access to specific information – according to their roles within the organization, but also who has access to the data at all. Managers may even choose to create guest settings that place visitors or guests in a separate virtual environment with more stringent security settings.
Conduct work in a virtual machine – You can experiment, try new things, and really push boundaries with your work because it’s all done in the relative safety of a virtual environment rather than an actual one. You can create code, for instance, without fear that it will wipe out the entire business database with a single keystroke. It’s very practical for IT professionals working in testing environments and development environments.
How do Virtual Environments Increase Efficiency?
Virtualization is the future of IT and many companies are surprisingly reluctant to embrace it despite the numerous benefits it brings for the sake of efficiency alone. Don’t overlook the improvement or the impact it can have on your profit margin by doing any number of the following for your business.
- Increases security of business hardware
- Upgrades easily with new technology or according to growing needs of your business
- Expands with your business
- Travels well – for professionals who aren’t tied to their desks
- Allows the instantaneous sharing of information among colleagues
- Limits risks of data breaches
- Scales down in times of lower productivity or need (perfect for businesses that have busier seasons, Christmas in retail business for instance, and slower seasons)
A surprising way in which virtual environments increase efficiency, for some, is by allowing employees to work in a BYOD environment meaning they can use equipment and devices they’re most comfortable with without being limited to devices those at the top prefer.
Considerations before Going the Route of Virtualization
Before you take the plunge and move your business into the new millennium, you must create policies that take certain concerns over working in virtual environments into account.
Responsibility – Whose job is it to manage issues relating to the virtual servers, security regarding them, granting virtual machine access, and limiting exposure? There needs to be a company policy identifying the person responsible for this role.
Maintenance – Someone also must be responsible for the necessary upgrades and backups required to keep the “hard copy” up to date. This includes things like security updates, patches, and data disk images. Assigning the task of maintenance to one person (or position within the company) for regular attention will eliminate many concerns and keep you from facing potential problems if disaster recovery becomes necessary.
Sprawl – This is a huge concern in the IT field specifically. Oversight and business regulations can limit this to some degree. It’s simply too easy to simply create a new VM. It creates a logistical nightmare over time with many virtual machines clogging up the server space. The problem is that employees often forget about them once they no longer need them. Ultimately they’re left unmonitored and, potentially, providing access to sensitive information.
The real secret for successfully managing data intelligently and driving efficiency in an IT firm is to keep the focus on progress, accountability, and utilizing available technology in a logical and restrained manner.
Spend time planning it out before you take the plunge and you’ll enjoy greater rewards for your efforts with fewer risks.