One of our increasingly popular services is a Windows VPS (Virtual Private Server). And we’ve seen the uses for them vary depending on the customer. Some of them wish to migrate their bookkeeping software to a centralized location, so that it can be accessed worldwide. Others are looking to replace their workstations and would like the advantages of an IT person without having the expense. But what are the capabilities of a VPS server, and what are their strengths and weaknesses.
First of all a VPS is a virtualized server that operates within the file system of its host machine. This allows a company or individual to operate multiple PCs on one bare metal machine. In the case of High Speed Web for example this allows us to build servers that can then be used to consolidate machines that use minimal resources, and / or rent servers that operate almost identically to what our customers are used to working with. An advantage to us would be that we don’t necessarily need to build a bare metal server for each customer, which takes up rack space and of course uses power, generates heat etc. Some advantages to our customers would be that many of their IT problems can be minimized or nearly eliminated by using solid state thin clients. And since their computer resides on our bare metal server, they don’t need to take their computer anywhere to be fixed when the eventual failure happens.
One of the reasons that VPS are more popular with businesses as opposed to the private sector, is due to the ability to add peripheral devices, such as scanners, camera’s, printers etc. Peripheral devices can be used with VPS servers, but often it’s not as easy as the end user going to their local technology shop, buying said device and bringing it home and connecting it. Part of the reason for this difficulty is that not all thin clients are created equal, and often there is an extra step of having to have your VPS provider install drivers for your device on that virtual machine. Most thin clients do not have cd/dvd drives for example, to allow you to install the driver disk. Then there is also the problem of having to transmit the contents of that installation disk through the Internet to your VPS which can take considerably longer then a customer would be used to. With that said it is far from impossible, and considering that most businesses do not regularly change their hardware and peripherals, the initial installation of their devices can be taken care of prior to delivery of the VPS. Another advantage to the customer is that since there is rarely any new hardware costs associated with building out a VPS, the overall TCO of that VPS is less then it would be if they were co locating their own server, or renting a dedicated server for the same purpose. An advantage to the administrators of the bare metal server is that in the event of a failure, the VPS can be relocated to a new bare metal server, or clustered between many bare metal servers, greatly reducing the amount of downtime to the customer, and reduced work load for the administrator.