Server Virtualization

Imagine the following scenario:

Years ago, your business purchased an expensive server to run a group of workstations.  This server has sat quietly, working away all these years, faithfully handling your sales orders, your invoices, your customer records.  One day, the server suddenly develops a Serious Problem.  The motherboard is failing, and no one makes a replacement.  You can buy a used one from ebay, but you don’t want to trust your entire livelihood to another ten year old part from someone else’s old server….

So, resolved to buy a new server, you contact your software vendor, determined to find out what it will cost to transfer your reliable software to your spiffy new server hardware.  The cost is, of course, astronomical.  The version you’ve already paid for won’t run on the new server’s operating system.  The new server can’t run the same old operating system that your last server used.  Your data, invoices, and customer records from the old version aren’t compatible with the new version.

The worst part is that you know that if you bite the bullet, buy a new server, buy new software, pay to have your data migrated to the new platform— it’s still got a shelf life of ten years, and you’ll be doing it again.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it didn’t have to be that way? 

Modern computer hardware is capable of a technique known as virtualization.  By running specialized software, a modern server can pretend to be an older one, while still gaining the advantages of new hardware, less power consumption, and faster performance.  Several legacy servers can even be condensed to a single modern one, while still maintaining the existing network.  In addition, backups are now much easier, since the entire operating system, running software, and data can be held in a single file, and transferred between servers easily.  Management is also improved, with the ability to easily test new software, updates, and even relocate an entire running operating system between computers.

Benefits of virtualization

  • Reliability.
    • As long as the underlying hardware is stable, virtualized operating systems do not suffer from any hardware or driver related problems.
    • Server images can be backed up, copied, and moved between host servers as needed
  • Cost savings
    • Modern servers use less power, generate less heat, and cost less to purchase and run than the old 600 watt heater in your back office now.
    • My preferred virtualization software suite is free and open source
    • Continue to run the software you’ve already paid for; break out of the cycle of forced upgrades
  • Agility
    • Scale up to multiple hosts in branch offices, share data between them
    • Hardware failure? Run your systems from a temporary rental while the broken machine is in the shop.
    • Deploy different operating systems. Demo new software without the fear of damaging an existing machine.

If your business is in the market for a new server, please call Gibson Computer Services, and I would be happy to get started making a solution tailored to your needs.