There’s a common perception that virtualisation is only for large organisations – but, says Jessica van Wyk of Veeam, there are major benefits for small businesses as well.
“Virtualisation is a powerful technology that means that for every physical server or PC you own, you can have many computers,” says Van Wyk. “It’s quite easy to run seven or eight virtual servers on one physical server, for example, or to have a Windows computer inside a Mac. It can save you money, make your business more flexible and protect you from data loss.”
But, she adds, many SMEs are missing out: “SMEs tend to think that because they don’t have dedicated IT managers, they can’t run a virtualised environment. But with the right partners it’s completely possible.”
Veeam territory manager Warren Olivier says virtualisation can enable a small business to squeeze maximum value out of its existing hardware. “You can take any existing piece of hardware, even a three- or four-year old server, and run several virtual machines on it. There is very clever patented technology underlying these systems that allows them to fool each virtual machine into thinking it has more resources than are actually available.”
Once servers have been virtualised, adds Van Wyk, it’s possible to have much better protection for your business systems and data. “Most SMEs are at great risk if anything happens to their physical servers,” she says. “Backing up once a week is not enough. A virtual machine thinks it’s a whole computer, but really it’s just a file. That means you can back it up like any other file as well. You can take your whole server home with you on a flash drive, or keep it in the cloud.”
Veeam specialised backup solutions for virtualised environments are powerful, easy-to-use and affordable, says Van Wyk. “Anybody who can use a computer can use Veaam to restore a file or a whole server in a couple of clicks. If your whole office burns down, you could be up and running again in a couple of hours with limited data loss.”
Van Wyk says the key to success in using virtualisation as part of a business continuity plan is to ensure that backups are regularly tested. “Backups can and do go wrong,” she says. “The worst-case scenario is to find out on the day you need to restore from a backup that it’s corrupted, or you’ve been backing up a problem that makes your data inaccessible. Veeam tests every backup to make sure it can actually be restored successfully.”
Virtualisation is an ideal solution for SMEs that face the challenge of squeezing the most out of what they have, while keeping up with rapidly changing technology, concludes Van Wyk. “Everyone faces the same issues – you can’t afford a full-time resource to look after your IT, so things tend to slip even if you are trying hard to follow best practices. Our advice is to find a partner who can virtualise your environment and manage it for you, negotiate a stringent SLA and spend your energy on doing the real work, not worrying about your servers.”