Technology is a key driver for any business’ ability to grow and scale – something which a huge 85 percent of UK small businesses recognise. That’s why those who stay abreast of the latest IT innovations and implement a powerful and flexible IT infrastructure will be primed for success.

In the business world, one of the most hotly discussed IT developments right now is the latest release of Microsoft’s Windows Server. Available in a variety of tailored editions, the technology promises to suit all stages of business growth and, in particular, claims to offer the tools for small businesses to greatly advance their virtualisation strategies. But how far does the new edition go in delivering business benefits to small businesses looking to pave the path to fast scaling?

Why virtualisation matters

When implemented properly, virtualisation can be hugely beneficial for small businesses. A virtualised environment provides small businesses with a way of effectively managing their growing business, enabling them to streamline their IT Infrastructure, improve business scalability and respond quickly to changes in the business. Businesses can run multiple applications and operating systems independently on a single server, cutting the costs associated with investment in further physical servers.

It also allows small businesses to better manage traffic peaks and make full use of server capacity. A company with an e-commerce site – a holiday homes company, for example – may experience spikes in sales during certain times of the year, especially around major holidays. Rather than have a dedicated e-commerce server, which would remain largely idle for the rest of the year, the physical machine becomes several virtual machines running several applications, thereby maximising the available server capacity.

Weighing-up virtualisation strategy with Windows Server 2012

Whether a business is looking to invest in its first server, or upgrade existing systems, Microsoft claims that its 2012 edition of Windows Server empowers businesses to advance their virtualisation strategy. Advances in the technology offer a number of benefits for small businesses looking to take advantage of the power of virtualisation for growth:

  • Easier to create a virtualised environment. Windows Server 2012 comes with the latest edition of Hyper V, transformational technology which simplifies the creation of implementing a virtualised server computing environment. Rather than use one server to host one business application, a physical server can be turned into several virtual machines, each running separate operating systems and hosting different applications, for lower operating costs and the ability to quickly scale.
  • Expanded support for host processors and memory. Server 2012 now includes support for up to 64 processors and 1 terabyte of memory, as well as a new virtual hard disk format with larger disk capacity of up to 64 terabytes.
  • Future-looking. An advantage of the latest iteration of Hyper-V, is that businesses can take advantage of new hardware technology, while still making use of its existing servers to help prime for future growth and boost business flexibility.
  • Harnessing the cloud. The new version of Windows Server helps businesses to transform their data centre into a cloud computing environment and provides the portability needed to virtualise on premises or extend a data centre to a hosting provider.
  • Server management. The new version of Powershell 3.0 can help small businesses save time and money by enabling them to automate the management, configuration and maintenance of network servers. Powershell also allows IT staff to remotely manage multiple servers distributed across multiple premises.
  • Automated back-up and storage. Automated back-up and storage of valuable business data and information will be valuable for small businesses, particularly as they grow, and the volume of their data increases.
  • Tailoring. The latest version of Windows Server comes in a number of editions to suit all stages of business growth, and offers a fairly straightforward upgrade path from Windows Server Essentials – for small businesses with limited in-house IT expertise and limited virtualisation needs – to Windows Server 2012 Standard, for minimally virtualised environments.

Support for Windows Server 2003 will officially end in July 2015, so it’s certainly not premature for small businesses to start thinking carefully about their migration path. Today’s breed of servers offer new levels of efficiency and power. Coupled with the enhanced virtualisation capabilities of this latest edition of Windows Server, SMBs are undoubtedly in a better position to deliver a flexible IT infrastructure which can scale in line with their future business growth.