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To Go Virtual or Not? Choosing the Right Infrastructure for Your Workloads

July 08, 2019

As a business, driving efficiency across all your operations is a critical component of staying profitable and remaining competitive. This is especially true regarding how your IT team manages the mission-critical infrastructure needed to support your company’s operations. Over the past few years, we’ve had multiple clients come to us with their workloads, wondering if physical servers or virtual machines are right for them. At eStruxture, we offer both physical (dedicated) and virtual servers. In this blog, we examine how enterprises can decide between both types of options and how our depth of virtualization solutions have their needs covered.

Data Explosion

It’s no secret that modern enterprises are facing a data explosion. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile IoT devices, AI and ML-based applications, 5G networks and edge computing, IT managers are finding that their on-premise, physical servers are unable to keep up with ongoing surges in data volumes. As a result, virtualization is fast becoming an attractive option as enterprises look for reliable, scalable data management solutions that can handle evolving requirements. In fact, Forbes reports that by 2020, 83% of all company workloads are going to be stored in the cloud. However, does this mean an end to demand for dedicated, physical servers? We think the answer is no; rather, both types of servers have a place in supporting enterprises’ mission-critical operations. Here’s how.

Understanding Physical Servers and Virtual Machines

When it comes to choosing the right infrastructure for your workload, it’s helpful to quickly review the definition of physical servers and virtual servers/machines (VMs). Also known as bare metal servers, a physical server is a computer fully dedicated to a single tenant. That means its components and resources – memory, processor, hard drive, operating system (OS) – are not shared with anyone else.

In a cloud environment, VMs can exist in a multi-tenant architecture. That is, multiple VMs can reside on one physical server with each VM behaving like a physical computer. Thanks to hypervisors like VMware’s vSphere, all VMs are separated and given their own virtual computing resources. As a result, public cloud providers can place their customers’ VMs across multiple physical servers, making it fast and cost-effective to spin up new machines and load applications. In other words, virtualization can help enterprises avoid the higher up-front expenditures of procuring physical servers for their growing workloads.

Choosing Between the Two

So, what’s the best strategy for choosing between physical servers and VMs? Here, it becomes helpful to compare the two options according to key indicators like performance, scalability, business continuity and security.

Performance

When it comes to performance, physical servers are the clear winner. Due to their single-tenant design, physical servers are more powerful than VMs because their resources are not shared. Staying in a non-virtual environment eliminates the ‘noisy neighbor’ effect of other VMs competing for a physical server’s resources. As a result, companies that run high-performance computing applications can benefit from investing in physical/bare-metal servers.

Scalability

Of course, whatever VMs might lack in performance relative to physical servers, they make up for in terms of scalability. After all, dealing with surging data volumes while staying non-virtual means investing in additional hardware. This is expensive both in terms of money and time spent configuring new physical servers. With VMs, this issue is ‘virtually’ non-existent; simply add or remove VMs as needed through the provider’s platform.

Take the video effects (VFX) sector as an example. VFX studios often do not run at the same capacity all year round. In fact, their workloads often wax and wane in three to four-month cycles. Sometimes, a studio may need resources shifted between locations in which they operate. Going the VM route offers VFX studios the speed and agility they need to shift and scale resources to suit their budgets, project timelines and fluctuating workloads.

Business Continuity

VMs also offer exceptional advantages regarding business continuity and downtime prevention. Enterprises in our digital age simply cannot afford to be down. That’s why they are increasingly turning to multi-cloud and hybrid on-premise/public cloud architectures. In a multi-cloud scenario, if one cloud provider’s VMs begin to go down, an end-user can, with a few clicks, transfer their workload to another provider. With a hybrid on-premise/public cloud architecture, the same principle applies. If a physical server encounters a fault or failure, the end-user can turn up additional VMs to ensure smooth operations.

Security

Despite all the benefits of VMs, there is another metric in which physical servers outperform the competition – security and compliance. Although an end-user’s cloud provider can implement strict security policies through a hypervisor dashboard, the fact remains that one’s data is still being kept on hardware shared by other end-users. With a physical server, an enterprise’s data is separated through isolated server locations; this provides a higher level of security than any virtual server could. For companies that need to comply with data sovereignty or other compliance protocols like HIPAA, staying with physical servers is an excellent choice.

Expertise When You Need It: The eStruxture Approach

At eStruxture, we support our clients regardless of their needs. Whether you require dedicated, physical servers or VMs in a private or shared-tenancy cloud configuration, we will work with you to meet your requirements.

Our high-end dedicated/bare-metal server Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offers best-in-class performance and reliability for the most demanding enterprise applications, delivered straight to a data center near you. As a physical, single-tenant solution, customers in this category get full control of their environment and do not have to worry about noisy neighbors or the intricacies of virtualization.

If, on the other hand, an enterprise is more interested in a private cloud solution, we can dedicate hypervisors to a single client. This enables them to pursue virtualization without dealing with the performance or security issues that can come with the shared-tenancy architectures of the public cloud. With the ability to integrate this solution seamlessly with other on-premise or hosted cloud solutions, we’re finding that enterprises are eager to leverage our private cloud solution as part of their overall business continuity strategies. Whereas many public cloud providers offer only limited customer service access, eStruxture is always here to guide and support our customers.

Of course, as a cloud-neutral, pan-Canadian provider of data center solutions, we do not lock you into any one specific service or vendor. Through cross connects to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and key partnerships with Megaport and IX Reach, you can access the cloud service providers of your choice, establishing a multi-cloud strategy that best suits you. Best of all, with data centers across Canada (and more coming in the future!), establishing the physical or virtual solutions you require is, well, easy.

Simply reach out to our team of experts and start configuring your dedicated servers or turning up VMs today!

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To Go Virtual or Not? Choosing the Right Infrastructure for Your Workloads