Cloud vs. Virtualization - Does a Small Business Have to Choose?

As technology becomes far more widespread in terms of new advances, smaller and smaller companies are seeing the benefits of new tools becoming available. Many of these technology resources are coming in the form of cloud-based environments or the ability to create more virtual room with existing internal hardware (i.e. virtual servers).

Many think that working in a cloud is just an evolution of what was previously called “using a virtual server environment” three years ago. That’s not exactly correct.

A cloud-based environment uses virtualization to make work far easier and fluid across physical boundaries. In many of the earlier, far more expensive versions, cloud environments existed as proprietary intranets or internal “discussion rooms” for those companies that could afford such Intranet designs. The resource quickly became attractive because it enhanced collaborative working across physical and division distances with the same intellectual product.

Background

Virtualization is technically defined as the ability to operate multiple computer worlds and environments on the same computer server. The software allows three or five servers to function where one physical server exists. Cloud environments thrive on virtualization because it allows an administrator to create multiple cloud systems on one physical server. So a cloud environment for accounting can operate entirely distinct from a cloud for java application development, yet both are saved and run on the same company hardware. Each one runs on a different virtual partition of the physical server.

Virtualization Benefits

Small and medium-sized businesses far more worried about operating costs and budgets can realize significant IT benefits at a very low subscription-based price or with the hardware savings. The software-based approach can also wring out a longer benefit from existing IT equipment instead of having to upgrade to handle larger systems and computer processing speeds. Finally, a virtual environment allows multiple cloud systems to run together; think of it like an onion – each layer of the onion can be a different, distinct cloud but they are all part of the same virtual platform.

On a storage basis, virtualization is well known for producing 25-80 percent increases in capacity of physical storage hardware. The approach simply compresses the amount of space data takes up, making room for far more.

Cloud Benefits

Many are quite familiar with the ability to access a cloud system via Internet access. It allows maximum flexibility for users to login and work from just about anywhere. The resource, however, also allows for the ability to manage a variety of different tools all at once. A small business can enjoy the benefit of Internet phone via hosted voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) or disaster-proofing backup storage avoiding the local loss of important files and data.

More importantly, cloud hosting reduces the need for IT maintenance and program support significantly. The interface platform is free. Most computers already come with some form of basic Internet browser programming. With that, a business can access online tools easily and only have to pay for the use needed at the time on subscription rates charged per user.

Small business owners and managers have the best of both worlds with virtualization and cloud computing. Neither needs to be used exclusively; they can be used together, maximizing IT benefits via one of today’s most cost-efficient ways possible. So businesses should feel a need to choose: Take it all.

About the author: Dawn Altnam lives and works in the midwest, and she enjoys following the business tech world. After furthering her education, she has spent some time researching her interests and blogging of her discoveries often. Follow her on Twitter! @DawnAltnam

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