Thanks to off-site hosting and virtualization, IT departments today have more options than ever in how they deploy servers to support their mission-critical applications. Cloud infrastructure is clearly gaining ground, accounting for 37 percent of IT infrastructure spending and expected to reach nearly 48 percent by 2020, according to IDC. But any IT person worth their salt will tell you there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Which server strategy you use should be tailored to your business needs. Not sure where to start? Consider these questions:
Question 1: What do you need on-site versus off-site?
There’s a reason we put this question at the top—it’s a critical one to answer. Maybe your business leaders aren’t ready to trust storing company data outside the company walls. Maybe you’ve already sunk big bucks into building servers onsite and the thought of a data migration makes you want to cry. That’s fair. Yet beyond those few cases—and unfounded tears—there’s the wide world of off-site servers. More companies are embracing off-site data centers because they can be cheaper, safer, more energy-efficient, and easier than dealing with on-site servers. Here again, the cloud is gaining traction: In 2015, 77 percent of all organizations had moved at least some of their apps to a cloud-based, software-as-a-service environment, according to venture capital firm North Bridge. But don’t let peer pressure guide you. Crunch the numbers and consider the business case yourself.
Question 2: Would moving servers off-site require extensive data migration?
Data migration isn’t something to take lightly, but neither should you let the short-term investment of time and energy rob you of the very real long-term savings. Streamlined, secure data migration requires a keen understanding of the storage types, formats and hardware platforms involved. Well-vetted tools, test procedures and best practices are key to a successful migration—and many cloud providers stand by the ready to help you with the task. This is definitely one area where it’s wise to lean on the pros. And remember, as painful as a migration might sound, it can also represent an opportunity to move to better-performing hardware, consolidate systems, or upgrade key applications.
Question 3: What’s the ideal mix of physical versus virtual machines for a business your size?
The choice to deploy physical or virtual machines is a separate one from where your server hardware actually resides. Even servers hosted on-site can benefit from virtualization and so-called private cloud approaches. The most obvious reason for choosing a virtual vs. physical server when deploying a new app or expanding an existing one is cost.
A virtual server, by its nature, requires no new hardware. Yet there are often good reasons to deploy new dedicated servers. If an application is heavily utilized, runs a high network load, or has major storage needs, the reduced hardware costs of a virtualized deployment may not be as important as ensuring system performance via dedicated boxes. By comparison, if an app is low impact, it may be a bad fit for its own server (wasting hardware overhead it will never utilize), and therefore a good choice for deployment to a virtual machine. One of the great strengths of server virtualization is that it gives IT the ability to make such decisions on the fly, utilizing virtualized server capacity on demand.