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Virtualizing – at Your Own Pace

Lots of organizations are wary of relying too much on virtualization of computing — that is, creating a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device or network resources.

Some would like to make the switch bit by bit to see how things go — and then move ahead or back (depending on the test results). Others want to keep some data internally, while taking advantage of the convenience and more powerful computing ability of virtualization for other processes or apps.

Are you one of those IT pros who see things this way? Well, there’s good news. There’s a middle way; virtualization (and the Cloud) doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Here’s a story to underscore my point:

About two years ago, in the U.S., Needham, MA-based Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering began virtualizing its servers because it wanted to be more flexible in meeting staff requests for new technology. A story I read about the venture says that the school wanted to be able to test out new services but not overhaul its existing IT infrastructure (buy new hardware, set up an OS, etc.).

Instead of having to set up new servers for new apps, the school used software from VMWare to create multiple instances of both servers and applications, increasing its ability to develop and test new services, as well as improving its resources. The school can simply create up to seven instances within an existing server for new technology and related services.

But the school realized that not everything’s a good fit for a virtualized environment. For example, Franklin found that engineering applications weren’t a good fit for the virtualized environment. So, it still administers them via traditional servers and hardware.

The school also boosted its backup schedule — as it now had to backup data in not just one server, but for seven within one server.

Aside from these adjustments, Franklin has found that virtualization is producing other benefits, for example, green computing. The school sees a benefit in reduced electricity costs, for example, server-room cooling is less for virtualized servers than for a room full of traditional servers.

For more information about how companies feel about the rewards and challenges of this technology, read Paid Monitor’s post about an important study on virtualization.

As virtualization becomes more popular, it’s our experience that more and more businesses are coming to rely on solutions that remotely check physical and virtual server availability and performance — with no firewall issues to get in the way. While those who embrace virtualization know that their investment will bring cost savings, they still need to be protected by fail-safe monitoring.  Unlike competing products, Paid Monitor’s server monitoring can notify IT staff of a brewing or existing problem even when networks are down.

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