There are many ways in which SMB’s can implement cloud computing and virtualisation: from cloud-based exchange email to virtual servers, the possibilities are mind blowing. In addition, many businesses are looking at virtualisation as a way of consolidating existing hardware and unifying their operating systems and services in to a single manageable environment.
The most common way of deploying this, is to install virtualisation software on existing (or new) hardware. Then, using management software, you can administer whatever it is you need on to that hardware.
Of course, many companies decide to use multiple servers in order to backup their data and act as a safeguard in case the hardware should fail (more details on this can be found here).
There is however, another option.
Many cloud providers are now offering cloud-based virtualisation services. This means that a business could outsource all of their virtualisation needs to one of these providers, potentially saving money on hardware, software and maintenance. There is of course a cost associated with using these services, and it is up to the individual company to decide which option is the most cost effective. In addition, there is also the issue of security. A lot of IT professionals would be nervous of trusting their business-critical data to anyone. However when you consider that many of these large, reputable providers already have a well-established infrastructure, including strict security policies and firewalls, you could almost argue that this becomes a moot point.
Using these services could also mean that you save money on office space: you will no longer need large, noisy servers, taking up valuable room in your building.
Virtualisation is gaining momentum, and with the expansion of this new technology is important for IT managers to decide whether it is better/safer/more cost efficient to implement virtualisation locally, or to rely on a 3rd party provider to host all of their enterprise services.