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It’s not all about hardware deployment in enterprise IT anymore. For growing enterprises that want to expand their IT systems to accommodate their customers and business expansion, there are also a host of useful options involving virtualization and Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor to consider.

You’ve certainly heard about virtualization in the past, but perhaps your company has not jumped in and learned of its benefits and features yet. With that in mind, this primer will provide the basics of Hyper-V and virtualization and explain how it can transform your IT operations, development opportunities and customer-facing services to give your company new capabilities to better take on your competitors.

What is Virtualization and Why Should You Virtualize Parts of Your Infrastructure?

Virtualization is the ability to run a software-based version of an additional computer on a Windows server, without any need for additional hardware or networking. Called a virtual machine, many multitudes of virtual machines can be run on one server or multiple servers to create more computing power and to also provide options for running multiple operating systems at one time on your existing hardware.

What is Hyper-V?

Hyper-V is a hypervisor, which is a software tool that lets users control their virtual machines and manage and distribute their workloads. In addition to Hyper-V, there are also competing hypervisors from VMware, Xen, Oracle, Citrix and others.

Using Hyper-V or other hypervisors, IT administrators can essentially multiply a company’s computing resources by adding virtual machines using Hyper-V to bolster the amount of work that can be accomplished, all without adding new physical hardware. This saves money and time compared to upgrading costly hardware.

Each virtual machine controlled through Hyper-V uses virtual hard drives, virtual switches and other virtual components to allow users to run their workloads under a wide range of conditions, including when they need to run software that requires an older versions of Windows or a non-Windows operating system. Virtualization also gives users the ability to experiment with other operating systems such as Linux, and to test software on a myriad of operating systems using many virtual machines.

Making things even more flexible, virtual machines can also be run with Hyper-V on a single desktop or laptop computer and can be exported and run on any other Hyper-V system, including Microsoft Azure, according to Microsoft.

Another huge benefit of virtualizing your systems is that your IT administrators can use virtual networking to build a multi-machine virtual infrastructure where they can test, develop and demonstrate new concepts and projects without having to expose them to your company’s production workloads.

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What are the Major Features of Hyper-V?

Each virtual machine running under Hyper-V runs in its own isolated space, which allows administrators to run multiple virtual machines on the same hardware at once. This organizational feature separates workloads from being able to crash each other and allows admins to provide different access capabilities to various groups of users inside enterprises.

In private cloud infrastructures, it can provide flexible, on-demand IT services by allowing shared resources to be changed on the fly and adjusted to workloads to meet demand changes, while also allowing administrators to consolidate servers and workloads onto fewer, more powerful physical computers to use less power and physical space as needed.

It also provides disaster recovery capabilities to users through Hyper-V Replica, which creates copies of virtual machines that can be remotely stored elsewhere to provide restoration capabilities if needed later. Backups are also supported.

These systems also include optimization, migration and remote connectivity capabilities, as well as security protocols such as secure booting and shielded virtual machines to battle attacks by malware and other attacks on virtual machines and their data.

How Hyper-V and Virtualization Can Help Companies of All Sizes

Spending new money today on hardware isn’t always the right choice for businesses. Hardware can lock you into high expenditures while reducing your IT flexibility and choices in the long run.

With virtualization, your company can expand its technology options by providing an almost limitless choice of infrastructure directions. Need more servers to run additional workloads? Just add more virtual machines with whatever operating systems you need to use. Require a testing and development protocol but you don’t want to add more physical equipment which will delay your work? Create a virtual test environment quickly and get the work accomplished using virtualization.

The options are wide open and the possibilities for improving and expanding your enterprise IT systems are proven daily by a wide range of companies that have successfully been implementing virtualization in their operations. Hyper-V and virtualization are amazing tools that can help your business dramatically improve and grow your IT capabilities as well.

Whether you’re a small startup, a fast-growing company that needs enterprise-grade features, or an established industry leader; if you decide to go with a Hyper-V solution, make sure you have the right Hyper-V management, Hyper-V security and Hyper-V migration tools to maintain a well-functioning environment.