A virtual server refers to a network server located in an offsite data center. As such, it can be shared by several users, all of whom have varying levels of control over it. Using it allows copying resources onto virtual machines (VMs) within a user’s premises. VMs are, of course, computers that mimic dedicated hardware or software.

Virtualization is often done to gain access to higher-capacity servers’ processing capabilities at lower costs than maintaining and running an internal data center. A virtual server can increase an organization’s server capacity by over 80% as well.

Other interesting terms…

Read More about a Virtual Server

A virtual server mimics the functionalities of a physical server. In general, virtual servers use a hypervisor, an operating system (OS) that allows the creation and operation of several VMs. The hypervisor allows multiple users in an organization to use the same resources stored in their virtual server at the same time. It also enables organizations to distribute processing workloads to numerous virtual servers, depending on their subscription.

What Are the Types of Virtual Servers?

Virtual servers come in various forms, such as:

  • VM model: Most virtual servers for virtualization purposes use hypervisors, which allows users to use multiple OSs.
  • Paravirtual machine (PVM) model: These virtual servers are highly similar to those employed in fully virtualized setups. But the process they follow involves using a recompiled guest OS running on top of a hypervisor operated by the host OS. Like the VM model, users can also run several OSs on it.
  • OS-level model: In contrast to the first two models, OS-level virtual servers can only use the OSs used by the host or administrator.

What Are the Benefits of Using Virtual Servers?

Virtual server use is becoming mainstream due to its notable advantages over using physical servers for several reasons, including those listed below.

Cost Efficiency

Virtual servers allow companies to increase their computing power without the need to acquire equipment and the space to put them in, which are expensive to maintain and operate. Using visual servers also lets them reduce their energy consumption.

Centralized Management

Virtual server providers allow users to manage and control their resources remotely. Users can thus ensure that all resources hosted on virtual servers are compatible with their in-house applications. Centralized management also allows them to perform backup and recovery remotely.

If an organization’s office is located in a disaster-prone area, virtual server use ensures that it remains business as usual even amid disasters, as the actual servers are located elsewhere. That ensures business continuity and prevents unwanted downtime.

Independent User Environments

By using multiple virtual servers, information technology (IT) teams can ensure uninterrupted business operations even as they test software. All other employees won’t have trouble accessing resources and suffer downtime when using applications. And because each user is issued his or her own account, none of his or her sensitive data is in danger of being seen or obtained by others on the network.

Scalability

Every service subscriber can spin up new virtual servers anytime the organization needs additional processing power. And when these are no longer required, they can be easily removed, thus lowering costs.

What Is the Difference between Physical and Virtual Servers?

The main difference between physical and virtual servers is that physical servers are designated to a single user, while virtual servers allow multiple users. This distinction makes way for more differences shown in the table below.

Physical ServerVirtual Server
Upfront costHigh upfront cost since you need to purchase the server and other equipmentNo need to purchase servers, so less upfront cost
Recurring costMaintenance cost can be high since you need to replace hardware when it gets damagedRecurring monthly cost can be high, depending on features and requirements
IT teamNeeds a full-time in-house IT teamNo need to hire a whole IT team
CompatibilityDesigned with your business requirements in mindCompatibility can be an issue
FlexibilityCan be configured according to your business needs and requirementsScaling depends on the provider’s policies
Control and accessibilityCan be accessed and managed by IT staff 24 x 7Provides limited control
Environmental footprintMore environmental footprintLess environmental footprint since multiple users share the same facility
Physical space requirementNeeds a secure dedicated or colocation spaceVendor takes care of the space requirement, not you

Which Type of Server Is Right for My Business?

Now that you have an understanding of the basic differences between physical and virtual servers, the next question to ask is, “Which type of server is right for your business?” While there is no direct answer to that question, your decision should be based on several factors that include:

  • Budget: How much money can you afford to spend on servers? Physical servers require a large investment and regular maintenance costs. You may also need a whole IT team to keep them running.
  • Performance quality requirement: If your business requires applications to perform at the highest quality, you may want to consider using physical servers. They can be designed specifically for your business needs. But if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of quality over cost, then virtual servers are an option.
  • IT staff expertise: Do you have staff who are knowledgeable in managing, maintaining, and configuring servers? If not, are you willing to increase your labor costs and hire a whole team of experts? Staff expertise and labor costs are important considerations for choosing physical servers. With virtual servers, you have access to the vendor’s IT experts.

In sum, virtual servers provide various benefits to facilitate business operations. In today’s digital age, companies that don’t have their own physical servers may need to use visual servers to ensure they’re always up and running.

Key Takeaways