A coming trend in technology is remote hosting. By remote hosting, we’re talking about taking computers and creating them to a cloud and connecting to them and interacting with them just like they were a physical machine right in our office. This is clearly something which can save money on things like electricity. You also don’t have to have a climate-controlled room for a virtual server, like a real server demands.
However, it obviously demands a lot more to go this route in some way. First and foremost is an absolutely reliable internet connection. This means that one internet connection is not going to be enough. At the very least, you’re going to have to have a backup internet source and a dual WAN router.
But a dual WAN router is also problematic because it is going to cause your external IP address to change. And this can have ramifications on your connectivity. The only solution which will be foolproof under these circumstances is multiple WANs and an SD-WAN router. An SD-WAN router presents one IP address even though the two WAN sources have different IP addresses. If you lose connectivity on one WAN source with an SD-WAN router, you won’t even notice a hiccup.
Virtual servers have actually been around for a long time. Some scenarios make a virtual server a no-brainer. For example, your website. There aren’t very many businesses out there that actually host their own website on their own server on their own property. No, the vast majority of us will… Lease a server from a service that provides virtual servers for web hosting.
These are highly specialized machines that have one job, that is to host web applications. They’re not going to have any extraneous software like a GUI to provide a desktop environment, for example. They’re not going to have anything like email clients or anything like that. These are servers whose job is to produce web pages. They may well have a database backend, such as MySQL or PostgreSQL, and they will likely have an interpreter like PHP to run complex scripts.
But people are actually beginning to move their file hosting and Active Directory administration to virtual servers. I personally had one client who was looking at buying a server and they wanted me to investigate the possibility of using a virtual server. In her case, with her small business, about a dozen employees, it just wasn’t feasible to go the virtual route. However, with a larger business, it may well be. A good economic decision to get rid of the local file server and replace it with something based in the cloud.
Microsoft will be happy to lease you a server through their Azure service. Amazon will also do the same thing with their AWS service. These two were pretty much the kings of the kingdom for a while. Now, however, there are many companies out there that will do the same thing at a much lower price. For this reason, if you do have a good, reliable internet connection that is redundant, and you haven’t priced a virtual server in some time, you might want to revisit it. There are websites out there that will rate 10 best virtual server hosts and give you the breakdown on what they can offer and what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at. So, who can benefit from using a virtual server in our area? Well, people in towns like Bentonville, Rogers, Pea Ridge, Centerton, Gravett, Hiwasee, Siloam Springs, Gentry.
If your IT guy is doing his job right, your users will not know that they’re on a virtual server. All they will see is a shared drive where they can store their files. This drive is actually mapped to a server which might be many thousands of miles away and which only exists as ones and zeros.
But the user will not know and they will not care. In the meantime, you don’t have a server in-house that you have to maintain. You don’t worry about things like failing hard drives, or failing power supply, or power surges taking out expensive equipment. And as I mentioned earlier, you also don’t worry about having to have a climate controlled room that runs temperatures cooler than is comfortable in order to make the server happy.
What you do have to deal with is the fact that your data has to traverse the internet in order to be written to a hard drive. And even though the internet has proven astoundingly reliable, thanks to our brilliant founders, who put together a reliable means of communication standards, still the fact is that it’s easier to write to a server in the next room than it is to one that resides in a state that is 500 miles away.
I haven’t talked about the biggest advantage of virtual servers. The fact that snapshots can be taken and that if anything happens to your virtual server, it can be restored almost instantly from the snapshot to a running state that was the case when the snapshot was taken. This is not possible with a physical server. With a physical server, we have to rely on redundancy. That is, having another server, which is working in tandem with the main server, that we can fall back on in case something happens to the main server.
So what about your business? Should it have virtual servers or should you have a real server or two? That decision is strictly up to you. You need to weigh the consequences and the advantages of going either virtual or physical with your servers. None of my clients so far. Have opted for virtual servers. My clients, coincidentally, are all pretty small shops. The bigger your business is, the more likely you are to view a virtual server as a service. Most cost-effective way to host your files, your Active Directory, your databases, or whatever else business applications you might have.