Servers are an important part of computing architecture. It’s what holds your files, applications, and websites. When a request is made over a network, it goes to the server, which accepts and responds to that request. In simple terms, servers make the networks deliver the results they exist to provide.
Traditionally, servers are “bare metal” hardware located on-premise or found in off-site data centers. But more recently, a second option—the virtual server—has become sought after and available from IT service vendors.
What Is a Virtual Server?
A virtual server is a server that’s housed on an offsite data center (away from the user business’s premise) and is split into multiple virtualized instances. Each of these multiple virtualized compartments functions just like a hardware server would.
A result of this is that hardware servers can attain full utilization—something that wasn’t often achieved for traditional servers on their own.
Why Virtual Servers Are an Attractive Option
The main difference between hardware and virtual server is that the former runs only a single operating system, while the latter (the virtual server) can run multiple operating systems. As such, virtual servers can save businesses a lot of space, and help them avoid the cost of acquiring extra physical servers.
Although the advantages of having a virtual server are clear, the quality of service around any virtualized server may differ across vendors. Businesses looking to enjoy the scalability and cost-savings of the virtualized server will do well to examine and compare providers offering this product before signing on with them.
There are a number of things that businesses can look for in a prospective virtual server provider. They are discussed below.
Uptime and Performance
The server uptime refers to the total duration for which a server is functional. Downtimes are the period in which the server is offline or not functional.
Organizations looking to sign up with a server virtualization vendor should go for one that provides the highest possible uptimes (i.e. lowest possible downtimes). This is important because it determines the performance of the applications and websites you will host on a server.
Higher uptimes will make your files, websites, and applications available more often. If the duration of your downtimes is too long, it could impact your business’s IT performance, and may ultimately affect bottom lines negatively.
The closer your uptime is to 100%, the better. Go for providers who deliver at least 99.9% uptime.
The quality of the server will also determine other performance metrics like network response speeds and load times. If it’s subpar, these things will also be affected. Ascertain that your prospective provider doesn’t have any of these issues.
Maintenance and Customer Support
With virtual servers located off-premise, you will have to depend a lot more on your vendor to help out with maintenance and support. This is crucial if you need to troubleshoot something urgently, and don’t want your server issues to negatively impact your business.
When weighing up server providers, find out how many hours they are available. Do they promise round-the-clock support? Also find out whether they can attend to you via the channels you prefer, whether it is email, live chat, or phone.
If it’s possible, also look for reviews concerning the quality of support they give. It’s one thing for service providers to promise a steady response and quite another for them to tackle your issues satisfactorily. By learning from their previous or existing clients, you can have a good feel of the sort of service you can expect from them.
Managed Versus Unmanaged Service
With your virtual server, you can either choose a managed or unmanaged service plan.
If you go for managed service, you outsource management and maintenance of your virtual server to the service provider. But if you settle for unmanaged service, you have greater control over your server. Both these options come with advantages and challenges.
Managed service ensures that experts at your vendor’s end will take care of your server issues, including maintenance and optimization. This takes the burden of the technical details off you and allows you to focus on your core business concerns. However, you don’t have as much direct control of the servers as you would get with an unmanaged plan.
Unmanaged plans, on the other hand, let you customize your server as you wish. However, you will have to monitor, manage, and maintain it, all of which require time and, potentially, extra costs. It’s also not an advisable option for businesses that do not have the technical know-how required to take care of virtual servers.
Pricing And Budgetary Considerations
Virtual server costs vary across service providers. Organizations will want to go with a vendor that offers them the best possible product at a decent cost—where ‘decent’ is defined as fit with their budget.
Navigating this aspect of the acquisition process can be tricky, especially because it involves balancing budgetary constraints and quality. Nevertheless, the scalability that comes with virtual servers takes care of some of these concerns.
It is also worth finding out what the components of the total costs are. This may give you an insight into whether the stated prices are worth bearing. Things like hard drive space, CPU cores, and RAM are part of the package and may cause the wide differences observed between price quotes across various providers. Knowing how these things contribute to the final price could help you choose a vendor with a decent offer.
Final Words: Go for a Vendor You Can Trust
Businesses dependent on IT need virtual servers that are efficient and effective. But they also want these servers from competent providers who offer good prices and great customer support. Without these, their operations may suffer.
Layer3Cloud takes care of these concerns with its best-in-class virtual server offerings. Our services leverage the expertise of our engineers and consultants, our deep knowledge of organizational needs, and our years of experience in the Nigerian terrain. Clients from diverse industries trust us to give them IT solutions that are tailored for them.
If you would like to learn about our virtual servers, cloud products, and other services, you can do that here.