What is a Virtual Server?
Using a virtual machine (VM) and virtual server is no new task. Many companies have been working with the concept of providing time-sharing solutions since the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was because the cost of using mainframe computers was extortionate and logically it made more economic sense to utilize time sharing. With the release of massive data centers, virtualization techniques have increased to make use of physical hardware. Physical servers can be bundled to create huge, aggregated pools of resources such as CPUs, memory, and storage. Even aspects such as networking, and virtualization of applications are possible.
What is a Virtual Server?
A virtual server refers to a network server located in an offsite data center. As such, it can be shared by several users, all of whom have varying levels of control over the server. Using it allows copying resources onto virtual machines (VMs) within a user’s premises. Virtual machines are, of course, computers that mimic dedicated hardware or software.
Virtualization is often done to gain access to higher-capacity servers’ processing capabilities at lower costs than maintaining and running an internal data center. A virtual server can increase an organization’s server capacity by over 80% as well.
How does it work?
A virtual hosting server eliminates the need for a separate computer for each server, and hence it comes as a budget-friendly deal. Virtualization remains a win-win situation for both parties. By using a virtual server, the performance doesn’t get compromised even if it charges fewer bucks.
With virtual machine technology, a high-powered server can be divided into many Virtual Private Servers (VPS). Every server has its partition of resources that lets every user run their operating system and applications. The amount of RAM and resources are provided as per the client’s requirement, plus there are always backups available, so if one virtual server fails, the other one can be brought to use.
Advantages of Virtual Server
- Server consolidation: If applications running on separate computers do not utilize the computing resources of their computers, they can be consolidated onto a smaller number of servers using virtualization technology. UNL can boost hardware utilization.
- No physical hardware dependency: If a physical server fails, the VM server will automatically restart on another host. VMs can be moved while online to another host for various hardware and software maintenance tasks.
- Smaller footprint: Virtual server decreases the number of physical boxes that a UNL must use. This means a smaller data center, with the resulting decreases in cooling and electrical costs.
- Hardware costs: Because virtualization allows for greater utilization of existing resources, fewer physical servers are required, saving money both on upfront hardware costs and maintenance costs.
- Flexibility and agility: Virtualization allows for the quick creation of different operating system environments, it is easy to run legacy applications alongside new versions, migrate applications to new environments, and restore systems in post-disaster scenarios.
- Ease of Testing and Development: Virtualization speeds up the development and testing process because it makes it easier to create different operating system environments. Virtualization allows designers to compare application performance across different operating environments, as well testing out applications in virtual environments (which therefore avoids destabilizing the system that users are currently using).
Disadvantages of Virtual Server
- Technical management to create, configure, monitor, and secure virtual instances
- Lagging performance when a host’s virtual servers are at higher activity levels
- Upfront costs for purchasing the physical hosts and virtualization software licensing
- Less scalable than cloud platforms
- Legacy applications may not be compatible with virtualization
- Finite space is usually limited to a single virtual machine or multiple containers
- Reduced control relative to managing an in-house server fleet; bound to vendor SLA
Types of Virtual Server
The virtual server comes in various forms such as:
- VM model: Most virtual servers for virtualization purposes use hypervisors, which allow users to use multiple operating systems (OSs).
- Paravirtual machine (PVM) model: These virtual servers are highly similar to those employed in fully virtualized setups. But the process they follow involves using a recompiled guest OS running on top of a hypervisor operated by the host OS. Like the VM model, users can also run several OSs on it.
- OS level: In contrast to the first two models, OS-level virtual servers can only use the OSs used by the host or administrator.
Virtual Server vs Physical Server
When comparing virtual servers vs physical servers, the question will always come down to your specific needs. Some businesses, organizations, or entities will still prefer physical servers, typically because they believe this option provides better security and faster uptime. But those preferences are partly built upon older information. Remember, technology is always growing, changing, and evolving.
The reality is, that today’s virtual server provides plenty of benefits. Taking a moment to review the benefits of virtual servers may help you determine which option is right for your business.
Which type of server is right for my business?
Now, the next question to ask is, “Which type of server is right for your business?” While there is no direct answer to that question, your decision should be based on several factors that include:
- Budget: How much money can you afford to spend on servers? Physical servers require a large investment and regular maintenance costs. You may also need a whole IT team to keep them running.
- Performance quality: If your business requires applications to perform at the highest quality, you might want to consider using physical servers. They can be designed specifically for your business needs. But if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of quality over cost, then virtual servers are an option.
IT staff expertise: Do you have staff who are knowledgeable in managing, maintaining, and configuring servers? If not, are you willing to increase your labor costs and hire a whole team of experts? Staff expertise and labor costs are important considerations for choosing physical servers. With virtual servers, you have access to the vendor’s IT experts.
From top to bottom, a virtual server environment can offer your company significant cost savings. You can save money on hardware, reduce the size of your IT department and experience less employee downtime by making the switch to virtual servers with the help of an IT services provider.