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Virtualization vs. Cloud – Which is Better for your Small Business?

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Owners of small-to-medium business have many critical decisions to make when it comes to information technology. One of the crucial decisions that occurs frequently is how to manage information storage and other IT tasks. While large companies may be able to purchase a private server and handle the payroll of a staff to manage it, smaller businesses may be at a loss for what to do.

There are two main solutions available to you: virtualization and the cloud. Understanding the difference between the two allows you to make the decision as to which is beneficial today, as well as what will serve you better in the future.

photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc

photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc

Virtualization

CloudTweaks article describes virtualization as a data management and system administration tool that allows enterprises the ability to use a one-to-many approach with hardware. For instance, using one hardware device to operate multiple instances of server operating systems typically provides savings when compared to using a separate hardware device for each instance. You can purchase a single piece of hardware that will handle multiple tasks and allow you to utilize more of your machine at once, increasing efficiency. Several companies, like hardware vendor Scale Computing, offer a system in a box solution that’ll get you up and running quickly while offering compatibility with both cloud servers and other in-house servers if you decide to expand in the future.

Cloud computing

Cloud Computing uses the Internet to store data, operate business applications and perform other tasks non-locally. Cloud computing uses virtualization to make the process more affordable and streamlined, but it virtualizes server software across multiple computers, giving you more power than you’d have available with a single box. The trade-offs are that your information is stored on someone else’s servers and you have to pay monthly fees to retain your use of the cloud servers.

As a small business owner who needs to find a way to handle your IT processes, how do you decide which method to use? These tips may make the decision making process a bit easier.

  • Virtualization gives companies a hands-on approach to information technology. If your needs are specific and you employ a talented IT staff, you may find that you can achieve precise results by choosing to create a virtualization environment yourself.
  • Cloud computing services are easily scalable. Therefore, if your needs are small today but may grow in the future, this could be a better option. As mentioned in a blog post by Catalyst Computer Technologies, scalability is a serious concern. Consider your needs over time to see if this could become an issue for you.
  • Creating a virtual server on-site may cost more up front; however, over time you may wind up paying less. You have a one-time cost instead of paying a monthly maintenance fee, which may go up over time.
  • Probably the best way to decide what will work best for you is to talk directly with an IT provider. Someone who is familiar with the inner workings of your company will have the best idea about guiding you to make the right choice for your company.

As you can see, both virtualization and cloud computing have benefits and drawbacks. Cloud computing is relatively new, so chances are the options available will only continue to grow over time. Keeping an eye on your company’s needs will help you choose wisely when it comes to all aspects of your IT department. Just remember that what works for one business may fail for another and what gets the job done today may well become outdated or obsolete tomorrow.

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