Imagine you had a computer (we know you do, but play along). Imagine how much you could accomplish with that computer. Now imagine that you had four employees…but only one computer. If they all took turns on that computer, productivity would be a bit impacted. Well, maybe not a “bit”, but a lot. Now imagine four computers, one for each of your people. A lot more work, but a lot more expense. Now imagine that instead each of your people working at separate full-blown computers, your IT service set your company up so that they were working at four “dumb” workstations that all relied on a single more powerful “server” computer store applications and files and feed them to the workstations as needed. Here is what you have accomplished:
This whole process is called “virtualization”. By using virtualization software, your IT service able to effectively turn a single computer into four computers. Under this scenario, the workstations we mentioned above are called “clients” and are served by the “server” computer. The virtualization software is called a “hypervisor”…yes, it comes from the word “supervisor”. What your IT service did was take one more powerful computer and with the use of this software, turn it into four “virtual” computers, also known as virtual machines, or VMs. Each of these VMs is called an “environment.” (Sorry for all the Geek talk).\
What’s also really cool is that each of these virtual machine environments can run its own operating system. Windows, Linux, Apple OS. All can run simultaneously on this single computer and feed appropriate apps and docs to each client.
Now imagine a company with a lot more than four employees. Imagine a company with 50 employees. Instead of 50 full-blown computers, because of virtualization, your IT service can set your company up so you are using only 10 more powerful units, with 50 “dumb” workstations. Yes, the savings are multiplied, but we have accomplished a lot more than that. A server computer that serves five or six workstations does not need the computing power of five or six single computers. The full computing power of a basic computer may be needed on rare occasion but is extremely unlikely to be needed all the time and the need for the full computing power of six computers at the same time would be so rare that it is almost unthinkable. All this matters because, since the computing power of the server computer is shared between the six workstations, and since it would be rare indeed for even one workstations to require its full computing power, the server can get away with, say, the equivalent of four regular computers’ computing power, which your IT service can install for a lot less money. The computing power is then shared, applied to each workstation as needed.
Virtualization is a powerful tool that is used extensively in cloud computing and is something you may want to learn more about. If you do, read our recent article (with some cool illustrations) on Understanding Virtualization. And if you want to know how it can benefit your company, give us a call here at DynaSis at 678-373-0716, because we have been at the forefront of small to mid-sized business computing since 1992.