Five Advantages of Virtual Server Environments

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Vice President, Strategy, McKesson
Five Advantages of Virtual Server Environments

It’s hard to argue against a technology that saves you money and time and lowers your agency’s energy footprint. These are all benefits of virtual server environments, a physical server set up to function as several servers, each with its own operating system and settings.

Once set up and properly configured, a virtual server environment offers a multitude of benefits for home health agencies.

  1. Lower costs. By allowing a single physical server to serve multiple purposes, agencies can save on hardware costs.
  2. Reduced energy use. Using virtualization, an agency can condense 30 racks of servers down to 10 racks or fewer. Those servers take up less space, require less cooling and use less electricity.
  3. Greater productivity. Building a virtual server is much faster than building a physical one (minutes rather than hours). IT specialists can create a basic virtual machine (VM) template and copy it when they need a new VM, rather than starting from scratch.
  4. Easier testing. Because creating a VM is so fast, it’s easy to test new settings and configurations.
  5. Higher availability. When a server fails, IT can replace it with an exact copy within minutes. Also, the failure of one VM does not affect the functionality of the other VMs on that host.

McKesson senior technical consultants Jeff Grant and Adam Cunningham suggest thinking about a virtual server as a bento box, which is divided into many compartments. A virtual server should provide a way for a number of separate virtual machines to exist and access the network.

Setting up a virtual server requires heavy duty hardware — each VM will share a portion of the physical server’s hard drive space, processors and memory. It also requires software such as Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware to configure the VMs.

A few tricks of the trade can help when it comes to working with virtual environments. Grant and Cunningham noted the following:

  • Don’t skimp on the amount of memory the physical server contains. This is a common mistake that places a chokehold on your VMs to reduce their functionality.
  • Database management systems (DBMS) are resource hogs. If you’re setting up a DBMS on a VM, make sure to allocate plenty of RAM and processor resources to it.
  • Microsoft Hyper-V is a more comfortable environment for many IT folks because it looks and feels like Windows. However, Grant and Cunningham say that Unix-based VMware performs better than Hyper-V.
  • It’s inadvisable to convert your domain controller from a physical server to a virtual one. It can be done, but it’s not a good idea.

Grant and Cunningham say that after converting physical host servers to a virtual environment, most agencies can expect to enjoy the cost savings and productivity boost from your successful conversion.

Virtualization is just one of many IT services where McKesson consulting staff can help your agency. Customized home care consulting services include systems implementation, technical consulting, and IT planning and management.

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