Virtual server technologies are nowadays employed by enterprise-class organizations to reduce cost, save space and simplify IT infrastructure. Virtualization technology enables multiple applications and operating systems to run on the same server. Reducing the number of physical servers at the datacenter leads to a number of benefits such as decreased power consumption, lower cooling and maintenance costs, and availability of more computing power in less floor area. Thus virtualization allows an organization to enjoy cost and energy efficient IT environments. With virtualization, the hardware cost is reduced significantly because of the ability to host the workload of several physical machines on one virtual server. This is made possible because the virtual server software hides the physical hardware from the virtual servers, by creating a generic hardware platform that is independent of the physical hardware used to host the virtual servers.
Systems employing virtualization need a sophisticated level of protection. Thus virtual machine technologies require special disaster recovery and availability solutions to protect against data loss. Such solutions must employ server virtualization at their end and should be able to easily take over the job of the client’s production servers, thereby almost eliminating any appreciable downtime.
Virtualized datacenters and virtualized DR solutions have been employed by enterprise-level businesses till now and could not be afforded within the limited budget of SMEs. Cloud-based services have overcome this constraint. According to Wikipedia, “Cloud computing is Internet (”cloud”) based development and use of computer technology (”computing”)”. Cloud computing allows a company to pay for only as much capacity as it needs and the user requires no more infrastructure than a computer and an internet connection. Using cloud services clients can use applications without installation and access their personal data. This technology has made possible much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth. Marked improvement in server virtualization, distributed computing and high-speed internet have contributed to the birth of cloud computing technology. Software-as-a-Service cloud model, the vendor supplies the hardware infrastructure, the software product and has a front-end interface to interact with the client. SaaS can range from human resource to inventory control to ERP. Benefits of using cloud services are, to name a few, no capital expenditure, pricing on pay-as-you-use basis, minimum infrastructure of client in the form of a PC or mobile and an internet connection, can be accessed from any location, reliable and secure.
Cutting-edge technologies like virtualization are now truly within the reach of SMEs thanks to the advent of the cloud.