Virtualization technology is just that, a technology. An organization's requirements and budget must be considered before a specific technology is selected. A technological choice that is perfect for the needs of one organization might just be the wrong choice for another. That being said, Small to Medium Businesses (SMB) would be well served by considering the impact of each of the many different types of virtualization that are available on industry standard systems today. It's not really necessary to relegate a specific virtualization technology to the "good" or "bad" bucket.
I was reading Analysis: Can a Customer Be Too Small For Virtualization?, an article authored by Shelley Solheim of VARBusiness and came to the conclusion that the analysis was based upon a focus that was just too narrow. Throughout the article, the term "virtualization" was equated with server virtualization which in turn was equated with the use of virtual machine software. This focus ignores access virtualization, application virtualization, storage virtualization and even management of virtualized environments, all of which could be very useful in the IT infrastructure for a small to medium business (SMB).
Here are some examples:
- Access virtualization, such as that offered by Microsoft, Citrix Systems, ClearCube and others, would make it possible for the staff of a SMB to access business critical applications that are hosted on systems in an organizational data center using secure, easy-to-use thin clients rather than a more traditional personal computer. This would offer the SMB organization increased levels of security as well as the opportunity to reduce costs in several areas, such as PC administration, PC support and installing updates to PC, without focusing the SMB staff to learn new applications.
- Application virtualization, such as that offered by Softricity (now part of Microsoft), DataSynapse and others, would make it possible for critical parts of the SMB's IT infrastructure to be replicated to increase scalability, reliability while keeping management costs in line.
- Storage virtualization, such as that offered by a whole host (pun intended) of companies including HP and Network Appliance which would make it possible for the SMB's IT organization to centralize storage for both desktop systems and their servers. This would reduce the costs of typical administrative functions such as backup and allow storage to live beyond the life of any specific desktop or server.