Virtual private server (VPS) refers to cloud services that allow small businesses, medium enterprises, solution providers and web professionals to utilize and control a partition of a server at a fraction of the cost of a fully dedicated server. VPS emphasizes that the virtual machine, although running in software on the same physical computer as other customers’ virtual machines, is functionally equivalent to a separate physical computer, is dedicated to the individual customer’s needs, has the privacy of a separate physical computer, and can be configured to run as a server. In short, you get the control and flexibility of a server but at a very reasonable price.
Why is VPS interesting to Asia’s small businesses?
Until the arrival of virtualization for x86 platforms and cloud computing, small businesses had to invest hard earned dollars to buy their own servers as part of their business. Having servers in-house also meant the need to have an IT expert on-premise. At the same time, it’s been proven that most servers are purchased to perform a specific task or run a specific application.
This application specialization inadvertently results in the under utilization of a server. According to Dave Cappuccio, chief of research for the Infrastructure teams with Gartner, server utilization, especially in x86 environments, is often at the low end of the performance range, averaging between seven and 15 percent in many organizations today.
When you consider that these small businesses have limited access to resources any investments in technology would be limited to the basics. As a result small businesses were not able to compete technologically with their much larger business competitors, at least until VPS came along. VPS offers a number of benefits of particular interest to small businesses.
1. Lower cost of ownership
The arrival of the Internet has released small businesses from the burden of owning and managing their own servers. By renting server computing needs from a VPS service provider, they are able to rent out just the right amount of server computing needs they need. Renting a VPS means you maximize your utilization of the server because you only rent what you need.
As the name implies, a VPS is a private server – your server – dedicated to your need. It is no more different than owning your own server except that you don’t invest in the upfront costs of the physical server, you don’t have to worry about maintenance, you don’t pay the financial burden needed to manage and support a server, and, just as importantly, you don’t have to concern yourself with obsolescence.
2. Control remains with you
VPS shares one positive attribute of owing your own server you have full control over your VPS. In a shared environment, you are ‘sharing’ a server with potentially hundreds parties. A rogue application from one of those parties can shut down everyone. Because it is your private server, you can run whatever application you choose on that server.
A common problem of owning physical servers is the portability of the application and the speed with which you can move your application over to another server. A proven benefit of VPS is the portability of application. VPS accounts are managed as server images by the service provider. Should you decide you need to upgrade or downgrade your server, your provider can move your image to a new server with zero downtime.
4. Independent Performance
Performance with VPS is less affected by other users sharing the same physical server. Whether it is CPU, memory, storage or bandwidth, your VPS is less affected by other VPS clients of your provider as your provider will dedicated a certain amount of resources just for your VPS.
A common concern shared by all businesses going online is security. This is the main objection of companies when faced with the prospect of outsourcing their server needs to a third party. VPS allows your source and data files to remain hosted behind a secure partition unavailable to other clients of your service provider. The security afforded by VPS is comparable to owning your own dedicated physical server minus the investment.
6. Dynamically scale IT with business
Many businesses are cyclical in nature. Owning your own physical server means that you have to provision for growth even before the server is shipped to you. Whereas with a VPS service, you can start as small as your business can afford, and grow as your business expands. An added benefit of this elasticity is the ability to shrink your VPS plan in the event that your business experiences a downturn.
7. Add new servers on demand
As small businesses discover the benefits on online commerce, they face the prospect of uncertainty and volatility. Growth spurts are common occurrences online as well as offline. What online offers is the ability to enter into a new business opportunity very quickly. VPS is designed for this environment. Add new VPS as the needs demand it. Take them down when they are no longer needed. Take the investment risk out of the equation. Add just the right amount of VPS overhead when you have the revenue to back it up.
8. High availability with VPS
All hardware will fail at one point or another. But as a small business you cannot afford the luxury of two physical dedicated servers. VPS allows for higher performance and near 100% availability without the investment burden that comes with physical servers.
9. Taking the management complexity out of the equation
As I stated at the beginning, small businesses are often cash strapped both financially and in terms of the types of skilled resources they can afford to keep on their payroll on a regular a basis. Why would a company hire a qualified IT professional to support one or two on-premise servers when in fact those same servers are likely being use for less than 10 percent of their capability? The complexity of managing a highly under-utilized resource does not make economic sense.
On the other hand, Parallels Plesk Panels on VPS removes another level of complexity and allows small businesses that never had a server to bring the value of applications, like email, website, file sharing or collaboration to the small business at a price they can afford.
10. Dynamic reallocation of resources
Container based virtualization platforms such as Parallels Virtuozzo Container that are purpose designed for the cloud and VPS services allow for additional flexibility not available on VM based solutions. These include ability to add and subtract server resources like memory or CPU without server reboot or ability to create links back to the server host operating system creating lightning fast management operations.
At the end of the day, VPS makes it possible for you to focus on what you do best – your business. The technologies behind virtual private hosting have matured to the point where control, security, portability, performance, availability and scalability are no longer issues that prevent you from fully utilizing technology as an enabling resource for your business.
The real challenge for small businesses is identifying the right VPS service provider to meet their needs. Look for a provider with experience in your business. Ask your peers for recommendations. Ask your provider for references in your industry. Approach those customers with questions about reliability, after service support, and responsiveness.
Remember that with VPS you have the right to control your virtual server so ask your provider what server management software they use. The software must be intuitive, secure and easy-to-use. For example, Parallels Plesk Panel is considered the industry standard in dedicated and shared single-server environments. It provides a simple, convenient way to manage your server yet delivers the platform stability demanded by hosting service professionals while providing self-administration interfaces and end user access for mail-, domain-, reseller-, and server-level administration.
Research firm AMI-Partners predicts that small businesses will continue to embrace new opportunities that cloud technologies, like VPS, can offer. AMI predicts the market for cloud solutions will grow at more than twice the rate of traditional ICT technologies in 2011 in these markets. In addition, this region is expected to lead worldwide expansion of cloud computing markets thereby providing ICT vendors with a strong, sustainable growth potential.
AMI concludes that there is a confluence of factors that will continue to drive the broad adoption of cloud services in the Asia-Pacific markets. Asia-Pacific SMBs are ready for the cloud. ICT vendors will be most successful if they succeed in establishing an adaptive channel partner network that enables SMBs to align their IT-requirements with their overall growth strategy through an intelligent cloud solution and services portfolio.