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Insight: Think computers, virtually, for resistance is futile

Published June 5, 2013 10:47 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Josh Linton, vice president of technology at VLCM, a provider of computer hardware and software to businesses in the Mountain West, says that computer virtualization is important to any organization, no matter its size.

What is computer virtualization?

It creates a virtual machine that performs as if it were an actual computer with its own dedicated operating system. Virtualization allows hardware, software and applications to run multiple workloads simultaneously on a single, physical computer. It enables us to wrap the three into a single file that can be moved from one server or device to another. For example, a computer running on Windows can host a virtual machine that looks like a computer with other apps or another operating system.

Is virtualization something everybody should be doing, or is it just for big businesses?

There is a place for virtualization in every organization. Five or six years ago, I wouldn't have said this because of cost, but that's just not the case anymore. Technology is developing so rapidly that the old way of tying an application to hardware is changing. Virtualization allows a business to have enterprise-class infrastructure at a reasonable cost. If people resist the change, they'll fall further and further behind, and have more difficulties and more expense to catch up in the future.

Are there advantages to going virtual?

Two main ones, consolidation of hardware and increased reliability. In the past, if we had 10 applications, it required us to have 10 physical servers. Through virtualization, we can host those 10 on as little as two servers. In the past, if one of these servers failed, the application was unavailable until the hardware was replaced. With virtualization, if one of the two physical servers fails, the application is automatically restarted on the other physical server. Within minutes of a failure, you're up and running again without replacing the failed hardware.

Disadvantages?

With virtualization you're adding complexity. If you're a small business that has an employee acting as your IT person on the side, this may be a little too complicated for him or her to handle. It would require the expertise and assistance of a trained IT professional either in the form of a full-time employee or an IT consultant.

Does virtualization look like it will have staying power? 

With technology, staying power is different than with other industries because it evolves so quickly and is constantly changing. That said, I don't see any signs of the move toward virtualization slowing down. You hear a lot about cloud computing and cloud everything, but all of that is built upon virtualization. All technology evolves, but I think future advancements and innovation will revolve around and be built upon virtualization as we know it today.

— Tom Harvey Josh Linton, executive