What is the meaning of a virtual server?
A virtual server is a software-based environment that emulates the processes of an actual computer. While end users won’t be able to tell the difference between a properly set-up virtual server and a physical server, they’ll actually be interacting with a virtualization of the computing resources of a physical server. The same resources that support a physical server—RAM and CPUs, for example—all have software-based counterparts assigned to any given workload operating on a virtual server.
Virtual servers are set up with something called a hypervisor, which is a type of software or operating system that creates and runs virtual machines. Once installed, the hypervisor can be used to create virtual servers with their own virtual compute resources. Examples of popular hypervisors include VMware Workstation and Microsoft VirtualPC.
When set up in this manner, virtual servers allow businesses to more effectively distribute the resources of physical hardware to ongoing workloads. This is because virtual servers, unlike physical servers, can exist alongside one another in the same physical environment. While a physical server is a single-tenant platform with dedicated resources, a hypervisor can support multiple virtual servers, allowing multiple applications to run simultaneously and share physical hardware capacity amongst themselves.
In addition to more effective distribution of server resources, virtual servers offer businesses a number of benefits that make them an increasingly popular option in the IT world. For example, virtual servers are generally easier to manage. While some companies can opt to set up virtual servers on physical servers stored onsite, many businesses decide to work with colocation vendors that manage their virtual servers for them. This means that trained data center professionals are tasked with maintenance, updates, and general upkeep, saving businesses the trouble of even powering the utilities needed to keep servers running and cooled down.
This model also makes virtual servers highly scalable. When businesses with physical servers want to add greater capacity, they need to requisition new hardware and work with IT professionals to prepare said hardware for internal use. On the other hand, companies that have invested in virtual servers—especially those managed by a third-party—can easily add capacity and scale down when necessary.
Additionally, virtual servers can be a critical component of your customers’ business continuity and disaster recovery strategy. Whether businesses operate virtual servers onsite and use cloud-storage backup, or they work with a colocation provider removed enough from primary offices to be unaffected by natural disasters, virtual servers can help teams restore normal functions with minimal downtime.
Is a virtual machine a server?
Generally speaking, a virtual machine can be a virtual server, but it can also offer additional functionalities. While virtual servers are specifically created to provide compute resources for end users accessing programs and applications—thus acting as software versions of physical servers—virtual machines can have other capabilities too.
Indeed, virtualization simply refers to the process of setting up software-based representations of typical IT assets. While servers are certainly one such asset, virtualization can also apply to virtual storage and virtual networks. These last two iterations of virtualization offer businesses similar benefits as virtual servers, including the more efficient distribution of workloads, lower operating costs, and scalability.
In this way, a virtual machine can also refer to virtual storage or virtual network capabilities. With that said, your customers should know that when IT professionals refer to virtual machines they tend to be referring to virtual servers set up on hypervisors. More often than not, it’s safe to assume that virtual machines and virtual servers are considered one and the same.
How can I backup a server?
Ultimately, the best server deployment for your customers will depend on their industry, their budget, and the goals they have for their business—in addition to their current digital infrastructure. Whichever server configuration your customers decide to invest in, it’s critical that you consider how to protect the information that those servers process. Whether businesses opt for colocated virtual servers or cloud-based backups from onsite physical servers, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be prepared for the worst.
If you’re interested in learning more about business continuity and disaster recovery with your servers—or your customers’ servers—explore our product suite to see how you can protect crucial business information and plan ahead for disasters. We offer a streamlined approach to server backups that consolidates the information you need, saves it quickly, and restores it rapidly.
With server backup software from SolarWinds, you’ll be able to count on cloud-first backup solutions that minimize downtime and maximize efficiency. Click here to see how we can help you backup crucial business information and be prepared for potential disasters.