The Benefits and Challenges of Virtual Machine Hosting

The beauty of virtualization and cloud computing is that it is easier for enterprises of all size to benefit from the high performance and availability of our network without the cost of running your own hardware. Virtual machines are ideal for small-to-medium enterprises that need reliable service at low cost, and Layered Tech surpasses other Virtual Private Server companies by providing guaranteed levels of service and support.

But just like running your own hardware, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to virtual machine hosting. If you’re wondering if a virtual hosting environment is right for you, we have you covered.

Benefits

  • Familiar Interfaces – Virtual environments are built to mimic physical ones, so you should never have any idea that you’re running on a virtual machine. Virtual networks include virtual NICs, virtual switches and so on. Other than being able to physically move a server, you’ll receive similar experience and performance on a virtual network that you would with physical servers.
  • High Availability – By distributing load across virtualized machines, virtual hosts are able to ensure high availability of applications and data. Even if one server fails, another virtual machine can be spun up with minimal downtime or data loss.
  • Scalability – Virtualized machines allow scalability on demand without adding physical resources you don’t need, and they can be expanded much easier than in a physical machine. Adding additional RAM to a virtual machine can be done in a few minutes, while it can be up to a day’s work for a physical machine.
  • Backup with Fast Recovery – Virtualization and cloud computing offer powerful solutions for data backup and recovery. Even if hardware should fail, virtual machines can instantaneously and accurately migrate data to working hardware with little or no downtime.
  • Easy Cloning – Cloning a virtual machine takes just a few clicks and a matter of seconds, whereas cloning a physical machine can be a serious undertaking.

Challenges

Of course, no technology is without its challenges. Virtualization has a number of advantages over physical machine hosting, but there are some challenges you should be aware of when choosing a virtual hosting company.

  • Security – If you’re moving applications from physical servers to a public cloud, there are a number of security risks since your cloud servers will be hosted on virtual machines in a shared infrastructure. Virtual hypervisors are easier to harden against attack than an operating system, but they are still complex systems that offer a new target for attack, especially in a public cloud. Layered Tech offers an ultra secure cloud environment that is closely monitored to ensure security.
  • Potential Downtime – While it’s unlikely that your virtual resources will all fail at once, it can be more difficult to reboot virtual machines in the event of a catastrophic hardware failure. Virtual machines can power on and off just as easily as a physical machine, but a VM coming online from a host crash will need to wait for their physical infrastructure to boot, plus the time it takes for your virtual machines to boot. The additional downtime may not be outrageous, but it can add up.
  • Oversubscription – Almost all modern cloud environments are built on an oversubscription model, so it is possible to oversubscribe your virtual machines on physical hardware. Essentially, if you have 5 VMs using 2GB RAM running on a physical machine with 8GB RAM, you’ve oversubscribed that hardware. Luckily, oversubscription does not mean over-capacity. Avoiding oversubscription on your virtual machines requires attention to resource allocation to ensure you’re properly utilizing your virtual resources when they’re needed.

Nate BrancatoAbout the Author: Nate Brancato is Layered Tech’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Since joining the company in 2008, Nate has overseen the development of strategic client and partner relationships, helping grow Layered Tech into a leader in secure cloud and managed hosting. Connect with Nate on Twitter at @LayeredTechSVP.


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