A Spiceworks survey of SMB IT professionals in 2013 had 60% of the respondents currently utilizing the Cloud, and projected that the number would reach 66% in the next 6 months. In addition, 72% of the respondents were using server virtualization and that number was increasing to 80% in the next 6 months.
Online surveys are not based on a strict random sampling methodology. If you’ve got a Cloud or Virtualization environment and receive a survey you are more likely to respond - that inherent bias is going to push the resulting values higher. This does not mean that Cloud and Virtualization implementations aren’t useful or worth considering. All it means is that marketers spin results. There are valid reasons to move some (or all) of your applications to Virtualization or the Cloud beyond whatever marketers are telling you, but you’re not necessarily flirting with disaster if you are not part of this movement. Local bare metal servers, storage arrays, and networking equipment will continue to be a valid, secure and reliable infrastructure model, and one that will still be in widespread use many years from now.
That being said, Virtualization or Cloud Computing can increase uptime, maximize resource usage and minimize the number of servers you have to maintain. As local servers age out and hardware is replaced in the future you will probably use one or both technologies as part of your hardware replacement strategy. There will be certain servers that won’t work with virtualization or the Cloud – for example, Microsoft clusters, I/O sensitive databases, and that one server in the back closet with your last remaining fax card – but some portion of your servers will work as virtual machines.
For those servers that can be virtualized, you will be faced with the question – which is better, virtualization or Cloud IaaS? And the answer to that is – it depends. Sometimes local Virtualization will be the best option, and sometimes Cloud computing will be the answer. The two technologies can both provide virtual machines, but have distinct use cases, advantages and drawbacks. In order to help you decide which technology better fits your needs, we’ve put together a new White Paper, Which is Better – Virtualization or Cloud IaaS?, that describes key factors to consider when planning a migration to either Virtualization or Cloud IaaS, and the differences inherent in the technologies.
So – should you get rid of your server room? Definitely “Not right now”, but probably “Yes, eventually we’ll get rid of some of our servers”. And to get to that “yes” , take your time in developing your strategy, and remember that a hybrid mix of local bare metal servers, local Virtualized servers, and remote Cloud servers may well be the best model to best fit all your IT needs.