Embrace the future with a virtual server

Author: Laurence Glen  |  Date published: June, 12, 2024, UK  |  Read est: 7 min read

Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group
Focus Group

In today's fast-paced business world, having a robust and reliable server is like having a solid foundation for your home—it's absolutely essential. Servers are the backbone of business technology, providing a centralised resource for data management, communication, and application hosting.

From the humble beginnings of mainframes and dedicated physical servers to the rise of virtual private servers (VPS), the evolution of server technology has been nothing short of transformative. Modernising your server infrastructure isn't just about keeping up with technology trends; it's about optimising efficiency, reducing costs, and positioning your business for future growth.

How does a virtual server work compared to a physical one?

So, what exactly is a server? At its core, a server is a powerful computer designed to manage network resources and provide services to other computers. Companies rely on servers for a variety of reasons: storing and managing data, running applications, and supporting communication tools.

Historically, physical servers were the norm—each one a tangible piece of hardware with its own CPU, memory, and storage. But with the advent of virtualisation technology, pioneered by VMware in the early 21st century, the game changed. Virtual servers, or virtual machines (VMs), emulate physical servers entirely in software, allowing a single physical server to run multiple VMs. This not only maximises resource utilisation but also offers greater flexibility and scalability.

Pros & cons of physical servers


  1. Performance: Physical servers are often the go-to choice for performance-intensive applications. By dedicating all hardware resources to a single task, physical servers can deliver peak performance without the overhead of a hypervisor. This is particularly beneficial for applications that require high processing power, large memory allocations, and fast input/output (I/O) operations. For instance, database management systems and high-performance computing tasks can significantly benefit from the dedicated resources of a physical server.
  2. Maintenance: With physical servers, maintenance can be more straightforward because there are fewer layers of abstraction to manage. Troubleshooting hardware issues or performance bottlenecks is often simpler, as there's a direct relationship between the hardware and the application. This can lead to quicker diagnosis and resolution of problems, minimising downtime and ensuring continuous operation.
  3. Reliability: Physical servers are renowned for their reliability, especially when configured with redundant power supplies, RAID storage configurations, and high-quality hardware components. These features ensure that even if one component fails, the server can continue to operate, reducing the risk of complete system failure. This reliability is crucial for mission-critical applications where downtime is not an option.
  4. Control: Having a physical server means having complete control over the hardware environment. This allows businesses to customise configurations to meet specific needs, from selecting the type of storage to choosing the network interfaces. This level of control is particularly valuable for organisations with strict compliance requirements or those needing specialised hardware configurations.


  1. Implementation: Setting up physical servers can be a time-consuming and complex process. It involves purchasing hardware, configuring the server, and installing necessary software. This often requires skilled personnel and can lead to longer lead times for deployment. Moreover, any significant changes or upgrades usually mean additional downtime.
  2. Cost: Physical servers come with high upfront costs, including the purchase of hardware and potential construction or modification of data centre space. In addition to these initial investments, ongoing expenses for maintenance, power consumption, and cooling can add up, making physical servers a more costly option over time.
  3. Scalability: Scaling with physical servers involves purchasing and installing additional hardware, which can be a slow and expensive process. As your business grows, you may find yourself continually needing to invest in new servers, leading to an increase in physical space requirements and operational complexity.

Pros & cons of virtual servers


  1. Implementation: Virtual servers are generally faster and easier to deploy than physical servers. With the ability to create, clone, and deploy virtual machines (VMs) quickly, businesses can respond to changing needs without the delays associated with physical hardware. This rapid deployment capability can be particularly advantageous for development and testing environments, where speed and flexibility are crucial.
  2. Cost: Virtual servers reduce hardware costs by maximising the utilisation of existing physical resources. Instead of having multiple underutilised physical servers, a single server can run multiple VMs, each with its own operating system and applications. This efficient use of resources leads to significant cost savings in both hardware purchases and operational expenses.
  3. Scalability: One of the standout features of virtual servers is their scalability. Businesses can easily scale up or down by adjusting the virtual environment without the need for additional physical hardware. This flexibility allows for dynamic resource allocation based on current needs, ensuring that businesses can handle varying workloads without overprovisioning or underutilising resources.
  4. Recovery: Virtual servers offer simplified disaster recovery options. With the ability to create snapshots and backups of VMs, businesses can quickly restore systems to a previous state in the event of a failure. Additionally, VMs can be moved or replicated to different physical servers or data centres, providing enhanced resilience and continuity planning.


  1. Performance: While virtual servers offer many advantages, they may not match the performance of dedicated physical servers, particularly for high-demand applications. The overhead of the hypervisor, which manages the virtual machines, can introduce latency and reduce overall performance. For applications requiring maximum computational power and speed, physical servers might still be the better option.
  2. Cyber security: Virtual environments can present additional security challenges. With multiple VMs running on a single physical server, vulnerabilities in the hypervisor or one VM could potentially be exploited to affect others. Ensuring robust security measures, such as regular updates, strong encryption, and isolation of VMs, is essential to mitigate these risks.

Are virtual servers the future?

With the flexibility, cost savings, and scalability that virtual servers offer, it's no wonder they are gaining traction across various industries. According to recent data, IT professionals are increasingly opting for a mix of physical and virtual servers, balancing the strengths of both to meet diverse business needs. For many, virtual servers represent the future of IT infrastructure, offering a more adaptable and efficient approach to server management.

How to stay secure

When it comes to server security, both physical and virtual servers have their unique challenges. Physical servers offer robust control and can be tightly secured within a controlled environment. However, virtual servers require a multi-layered security approach to protect against potential vulnerabilities.

Best practices:

  • Regular updates: Ensure all server software, including the hypervisor and operating systems, is regularly updated to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Strong encryption: Use strong encryption methods to protect data both at rest and in transit.
  • Isolation: Implement strict isolation policies for VMs to prevent potential breaches from spreading across the virtual environment.
  • Monitoring and auditing: Continuously monitor server activity and conduct regular security audits to identify and address potential threats.

How does Microsoft Sharepoint fit in?

Microsoft SharePoint is a web-based platform that allows businesses to create websites, manage documents, and facilitate collaboration among team members. It provides a centralised location for storing, organising, and sharing information, making it easier for employees to work together and access the resources they need. In many ways, it is its own mini-server, keeping everything in one place to reduce the time spent searching.

Benefits for businesses:

  • Document management: SharePoint offers robust document management features, including version control, metadata tagging, and advanced search capabilities. This ensures that employees can easily find and work with the most current information.
  • Collaboration: With SharePoint, teams can create shared workspaces, calendars, and task lists, enhancing collaboration and productivity. Integration with Microsoft Teams further extends these capabilities, providing real-time communication and collaboration tools.
  • Customisation: SharePoint is highly customisable, allowing businesses to tailor the platform to meet their specific needs. Whether it's creating custom workflows, designing unique intranet sites, or integrating with other business applications, SharePoint can be adapted to fit various requirements.

Migrating to SharePoint can be a smooth process with the right planning and expertise. Focus Group can help businesses assess their current infrastructure, plan the migration, and ensure a seamless transition. Our team of experts will work closely with you to customise SharePoint to your business needs, ensuring that you get the most out of this powerful platform, and that it fits in with your current Microsoft 365 plan.

Making the switch with Focus Group

At Focus Group, we're dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of server technology. Our expertise in business technology means we can tailor solutions to fit your unique needs, ensuring seamless integration and optimal performance.

Whether you're considering a shift to virtual servers, enhancing your physical server setup, or exploring the capabilities of Microsoft SharePoint, we're here to guide you every step of the way. Get in touch with us today to discover how we can help you focus on what truly matters—growing your business.

Laurence Glen photo

Laurence Glen
IT Director

Our IT world, together with the ongoing development of this business-critical portfolio of services, is in very capable hands with Laurence at the helm. IBM-trained and with a 22-year track record of proven success in the IT sector ensures Laurence is perfectly placed to lead the overall IT strategy for Focus Group, ensuring we’re at the forefront of product development and service innovations in order to deliver the best possible IT technologies for our customers.

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