What Is a Virtual Server: Pros and Cons to Consider for Your Business
Virtualization might be a buzzword you’ve heard a lot of in recent years. In fact, close to 92% of businesses have some form of virtualization within their IT infrastructure. You’re probably already using virtualization in some capacity within your own business operations.
But what is virtualization in the context of hardware or server hosting? What is a virtual server? How is it different from a dedicated physical server, and which one is the right option for you?
Let’s address these questions in this blog.
What Are Virtual Servers
A virtual server — also called a virtual machine (VM) or a Virtual Private Server (VPS) — is launched on a physical machine, which is a standard physical computer with computing resources like RAM, hard drives, CPU cores, GPUs, and so on.
To enable virtualization, a tool called a hypervisor is used. The hypervisor allows administrators to create and run multiple virtual servers on top of this physical server.
Creating a virtual server is like creating a folder. It exists virtually on the physical computer and gives you all the functionality of a server.
Compared to a physical server, a virtual server simply shares the resources of the physical server it is built on. It has all the components of a dedicated server, like RAM, storage drives, CPU cores, etc., allocated accordingly by the hosting provider.
For example, on a physical server with 32GB RAM, an admin can create multiple virtual servers, and they will each be allocated memory from this 32GB pool.
The admin can create 2 VMs with 16GB RAM each, 8 VMs with 4 GB RAM each, 3 VMs with 8GB RAM each and 8 GB left to spare, and so on… you get the idea.
Simply put, think of a virtual apartment building as the physical server, and each apartment is allotted to a single user – the virtual server. The building utilities will be shared by all, yet the space is private!
Virtual Servers vs. Dedicated Servers
One main benefit of owning a virtual server is its scalability. Since virtual servers are only allocated from a physical server, they can be created, destroyed, and modified at any time. You can purchase and start using a virtual server in a matter of minutes.
Resources are allocated to the virtual server based on need, so this allocation is flexible as well. You can start with a virtual server that has 8GB of RAM and increase the RAM to 12GB in real time without needing to add any physical components. It’s just a matter of your hosting provider abstracting and allocating more resources from the pool.
This is perfect for businesses that are still starting small but can see themselves scaling up online in the future. You don’t need to invest in extra resources right from the start in anticipation of growth like you would do with a dedicated server.
Virtualization allows you to access extra resources on the fly. This also means you only need to pay for what you use, making virtual servers more affordable than dedicated ones.
Virtual servers are also portable, which means they can be transferred right away from one physical server to another without needing physical work. This gives you the freedom to change hosts or vendors without having to worry about migration.
Pros and Cons of Virtual Servers
|Only pay for what you need
You pay for only the resources you use, so it is a much more affordable solution when compared to purchasing a dedicated server.
|Not as powerful as a dedicated server
Multiple virtual servers run on a single physical server and share its resources. This could result in a performance drop as compared to the
performance of a dedicated server.
|Scalability of server resources
Virtual servers are highly flexible and scalable. You can increase or decrease resources as your business grows. You can even automate the allocation of resources, so they automatically apply based on traffic and load.
|Limited to the available resources
Your choices are limited to what’s available on the physical machine. For example, while you can select how much you want to use, you might not be able to choose the brand of the processor or GPU that you want.
|Easy recovery in case of attacks or disasters
Recovering a virtual machine in case of a disaster or an attack is easier. Virtual servers also allow you to create backup snapshots that you can roll back to when needed.
|Not ideal for big ecommerce businesses or IT agencies
Since virtual servers are still hosted on a shared server, they won’t be enough to support the online demands of big businesses handling millions of users and multiple websites.
The Verdict: What’s Best for Your Business
Well, it all boils down to what your business needs. Virtual servers are more affordable, but they may not be able to provide ample resources required by huge corporations. On the other hand, dedicated servers provide more freedom and resources but are a lot more expensive than virtual servers.
If you feel your business needs consistent high performance for multiple websites and applications, consider getting dedicated servers.
But if you want excellent performance for your SME with the option to scale as needed, all that without having to break the bank, go for a virtual server.
Learn more about the benefits of virtual servers for your business with Linux VPS Hosting.