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Small businesses use virtualisation to support growth

Kathleen Hall

Small and medium enterprises are emulating larger firms in adopting virtualisation to aid growth.

One example of this trend is manufacturing company J&H Bun's roll-out of VMware's server virtualisation software.

The business implemented the technology due to its rapid expansion, which would have required the firm to double the number of servers used.

John Fuller, IT director of the family-owned business, implemented a virtualisation system to support the company's growth.

The technology, which allows companies to reduce the amount of hardware they require, has traditionally been taken up in the corporate sector.

Fuller said, "In the past we thought virtualisation was something that only applied to larger companies." But the move to a virtualised server did not cost more than replacing the company's existing servers, which it used to do every five years, he said.

"The whole project came to around £50,000. And our estimated savings over the next five years come to £47,000 in electricity and maintenance costs. It also means I no longer have to worry about servers going down," he said.

Dale Vile, analyst at Freeform Dynamics, said, "We are at a point where the market is changing." Over the course of 2010 suppliers have started to make more accessible offerings to SMEs, he said.

"The bottom line is that we see virtualisation becoming a natural and fundamental part of small business IT as we go through 2011."

However, Bob Tarzey, analyst at Quocirca, said many small businesses would be better advised to dispose of their servers entirely and move to a purely cloud-based platform.

"It is often a cheaper option as the service providers have better economies of scale and they would probably do a better job at managing disaster recovery than the small business," he said.

Fuller said outsourcing to the cloud was not something his company was ready for. "We wanted to maintain control over our servers. It is something we might consider in the future, but we need to walk before we can run," he said.


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