Practically all business computing is driven by software programs using Windows and Linux servers, the most used business operating systems.  These systems allow us to run several applications and share resources on a computer.  An alternative approach is to build an appliance which is a self-contained computer designed for a particular function.  Appliances are dedicated machines for particular functions and are usually more efficient than the more general purpose office business machines, an example of this is the router or firewall that sits between your office network and the internet.

With Virtual computing the lines between the application and appliance models become blurred; instead of having one server carrying out multiple functions it can be more efficient and effective to have multiple servers carry out dedicated or limited tasks, still on one computer.  In addition the appliance can now be a software application that is operated as a virtual machine, you just download it and use it.  A bit like the apps that have made such an impact on the way we use mobile phones and tablets.

My recent HC3 cost comparison blog indicated that smaller organisations would not require the capacity for 30 applications used in the comparison, reflecting the position of many small organisations today.  But given the advantages of Virtualisation it is more likely that even small businesses will run applications as separate machines.  A typical small business will have several applications such as:

  • Email and calendars
  • File and document storage and management
  • Work/activity management and time recording
  • Accounts for payments, PAYE and invoicing
  • Sales and CRM
  • Collaboration and information sharing
  • Telephones and Printing

For a small business these applications can all be virtualised and run on one or two computers or on a cluster such as HC3. We have tried to show this in a simple diagram on our proven virtual servers website, as part of explaining virtualisation.

With the change to a cloud approach it is also likely that applications may be distributed across several locations; some on your premises and some in data centres.  In addition some applications may be shared with others and bought as a service.