What CFOs Need to Know: Get Real Benefits from Virtual Machines

Using computer resources efficiently and cost-effectively is challenging. Servers are often underutilized, and every server brings with it not only the purchase cost but also the ongoing support and maintenance costs. One way to bring these costs under control is to start using virtual machines (VMs). Here’s what CFOs should know about this technology.

What are virtual machines?

Virtual machines are computer programs that emulate physical computers. Each virtual machine runs its own operating system and has access to its own file system and other hardware resources. Software can be installed on a virtual machine and runs as if it were running on an actual machine. You can run more than one virtual machine on a single physical server. The virtual machines on a physical server are managed by a program called a hypervisor. Each virtual machine operates independently and can be booted or shutdown without affecting the operation of other virtual machines.

How do virtual machines change how I use my computers?

Because you can run more than one virtual machine on a single physical computer, you can reduce the amount of hardware you need to buy. Because each virtual machine is fully independent, you can have development, test, and production VMs all on the same physical box without interfering with each other. You can even have VMs with different operating systems running on the same server, which is useful when you’re testing an operating system upgrade or have to run an old application in an older version of the operating system.

What are the benefits of using virtual machines?

Because using virtual machines results in server consolidation, you spend less on purchasing and maintaining hardware, along with lower energy and cooling costs.

The separation between virtual machines makes it easy to test software upgrades. You don’t need to dedicate a physical server to making sure the new software configuration won’t cause any problems.

Using VMs also simplifies backup and recovery processes. You can backup and restore an entire VM as a single file. This also makes it easy to clone VMs and bring up new servers. These capabilities give you high availability; if there’s a hardware failure, you can simply bring up the virtual machine on another server.

Is there any downside to using virtual machines?

Because of the emulation, using a virtual machine can be slightly slower than using a physical computer. In most cases this doesn’t matter, but applications that demand high performance or graphics may not run well in a virtualized environment.

What’s the difference between a virtual machine and the cloud?

Virtual machines and other virtualization technologies are the foundation of the cloud, but virtual machines are not the same as the cloud. Both technologies let you scale easily by starting and stopping instances on demand.

When you’re using a virtual machine, those instances run on a physical server in your own data center or on your own premises. You own an underlying piece of hardware, and you need to manage its capacity, monitor its status, and perform upgrades and other maintenance tasks.

When you use the cloud, the cloud provider gives you a virtual machine on a physical server managed and supported by the cloud provider. The underlying hardware isn’t accessible to you, and your company doesn’t have exclusive use of the server. In addition, cloud providers offer self-service capabilities that let you bring up instances on demand, which usually isn’t true for in-house virtual machine environments.

How do I create virtual machines?

Using virtual machines requires installing the hypervisor software on your computer. There are several leading vendors, including VMware and Microsoft’s Hyper-V.

Should my business use virtual machines?

To decide if your business should use virtualization, and if so, whether you should use VMs on-site or move to the cloud, start with a full analysis of your business needs. Prescient Solutions offers a free infrastructure assessment to help you understand your environment. We’re certified in VMware and Microsoft virtualization, and are also Microsoft partners with full understanding of their Azure cloud environment.

Contact us to start figuring out how you can gain real benefits from using virtual machines.

Additional VMware Resources

The Latest VMware Release Makes Running and Managing Your VMs Simpler and Safer

VMware As a Stepping-Stone to the Cloud

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