Virtualization adoption is growing in 2014 and making the move into the small and medium-sized business (SMB) arena. While you may be thinking your business is too small to deploy virtualization, now is the time to take a closer look as even small businesses can reap the benefits of going virtual. The tech adoption trends are shifting and many small businesses are now making the move to incorporate virtual servers into their IT ecosystem. According to the 2014 State of IT released by Spiceworks, over half of the small businesses surveyed with fewer than 19 employees have already adopted virtualization in their IT infrastructure. This number jumps to a 70 percent adoption rate for companies surveyed with 20-99 employees. While most small businesses don’t opt to go virtual overnight, it is time to start looking at where and when your business can start to take advantage of the benefits of going virtual. If you’re not sure where to start with virtualization, you may want to read our Virtualization Glossary of Terms You Should Know first to familiarize yourself with some of the terminology used in this post.

 How Virtualization Reduces Costs

More small businesses looking to cut costs are looking to virtualization due to the overall savings that it offers. As long as your small business utilizes multiple servers, your business is likely not too small to benefit from using virtualization. By deploying virtual servers, small businesses can reduce operational costs, increase application availability and gain more flexibility, allowing your business to grow without incurring the added costs associated with acquiring additional servers. Server virtualization offers greater ease of management, simplified licensing, better hardware utilization, reduced hardware costs, lower energy costs and easier maintenance.

Virtualization ultimately enables small businesses to respond to IT challenges more quickly and affordably.  As data grows, small businesses can deploy and scale additional resources without being limited by budgets to add additional hardware. For small and mid-sized business environments where IT budgets and resources are tight, the savings associated with server virtualization can greatly outweigh the costs, especially if you can time your move to virtualization with your hardware refresh cycles.

5 Benefits of Virtualization You May Not Have Considered:

  1. Data Availability: Gives you access to older systems, applications and data
  2. Isolate Unsupported Operating Systems: Negate security risks that unsupported OS exposed to the Internet cause, while still offering access to it
  3. Compliance: A single machine with an unsupported OS, connected to the Internet can place healthcare and other organizations out of compliance with government regulations (HIPAA)
  4. Maintenance Costs: Reduction in the number of physical machines to be administered results in less routine maintenance costs and less cooling costs
  5. Productivity: Added capacity, functionality and software compatibility gained from the upgrade of hardware and/or operating systems and applications

Rather than virtualizing your entire server environment all at once, you may want to consider doing it in stages.  Look for specific areas where you can start the migration from physical to virtual, and continue the migration over time. You may want to start looking at virtualizing your business-critical applications like Exchange, Active Directory, internal IT tools or even SQL.  Ultimately, you’ll need to determine what gets virtualized based on the needs of your business.

By virtualizing your servers, you will likely also reduce your software costs. While it depends upon the specific software licensing, in many cases software licensing is based on the number of physical servers. You may be charged additional fees to support your hypervisors, but you are normally not charged for each virtual guest. For example, with NovaBACKUP Business Essentials you would need a single license for each physical server, but that same license would also support an unlimited number of virtual machines on that physical server.

Backing Up Virtualized Servers

Now that you have started your migration to virtual servers, you will most likely have a hybrid IT environment with your business data and applications split between physical and virtual servers. When it comes to backing that data up, the last thing you want is to add a secondary software solution (and the associated costs) to handle your virtual machine backups. If your current solution does not offer a unified server backup solution that will allow you to backup both your physical servers and your virtual machines from a single solution, it may be time to start looking for another solution.

6 Things to Look for in a Virtual Machine Backup Solutions:

  1. All-inclusive solution to manage both physical and virtual machines
  2. A solution that is easy to install and setup
  3. The ability to restore a single file from a virtual machine
  4. Easy virtual machine replication
  5. Web-based central management for remote backup management
  6. Local support from backup experts

Enhance Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Virtualization makes it possible to easily enhance your disaster recovery plan to appease even the shortest possible recovery time objective (RTO). If the backup software you select offers VM replication in addition to disaster recovery image backups, you can replicate a virtual machine from one hypervisor to another with block-level updates, to ensure the quickest possible availability in the event of a machine failure. In literally minutes, not hours or even days, you can get backup up and running in the event of a disaster.

If you are looking for a server backup software that will support both physical and virtual servers, I would recommend taking a look at NovaBACKUP Business Essentials. It’s an ideal solution for small businesses because it’s an all-inclusive solution, its affordable (Under $600 per server), and it includes Setup Assistance. For a small and mid-sized businesses with little or no IT department, having someone available to install and setup their backups offers a unique benefit that is rarely available without a hefty price tag. With any of our NovaBACKUP server backup solutions, this level of service and support comes standard. Getting free Setup Assistance with local support and the ability to fully recover virtual machines in just minutes is exactly why NovaBACKUP is backup for the rest of us.