Host Business Apps on Virtual Machines… watsegoed?
By Sodi U McHloride
Oh, yes. Tech companies are gifted at creating cool-sounding, confusing terminology, abbreviations and acronyms. Worse, even the best-intentioned propellerhead will have a “Wa’ val jy uit?” quizzical look on his/her geeky face when you dare ask some clarification on what they are yacking on about. Then, oh dear, better sit down and prepare for some serious ‘techsplaining’. Which is as irritating as mansplaining, by the way. Only, afterwards there’s a good chance you’ll be none the wiser.
Anyway, allow me an opportunity to break that going-nowhere-slowly circle, so you can get back to running your business, I can get back to making fun of fellow techies and they can get back to saving the world, one line of coding at a time, while feeding their caffeine addictions with tall, vegan, café-mocha-lattes in biodegradable cups.
Let’s start with terminology being thrown around with wild abandon for over a decade:
Nope, no magical cumulus atmospheric water vapour involved whatsoever. Cloud computing is simply computer system resources (like storage, computing power, software, databases and networking) hosted/installed somewhere on terra firma in an actual computer or data centre. And you, as a user, access these resources from a device (a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile phone) through an Internet connection. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
The alternative, traditionally, is to host/store/install all the computing system resources you require on a server you own or rent and you connect to it via a physical cable or other connection, other than the internet.
Cloud computing is also not new: network-based remote computing dates back to the 60s, although the term ‘cloud computing’ was apparently (widely disputed of course) coined by then CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt in 2006. (1) It’s just jargon – but it is jargon everybody is using. Now you know.
No Star Trek or The Matrix trickery here either. A virtual machine is purely an emulation of a physical computer (with its own CPU, memory, network interface, and storage), i.e. clever piece of software on a server that behaves like a standalone computer, by using allocated resources from the host machine/server as and when required.
A very useful advantage of modern virtual machines is that it is isolated from other software and hardware on the server by another clever bit of software called a hypervisor (“Full speed ahead, Mr. Sulu!”). Which basically means a massive balls-up on a virtual machine does not affect the other software, processes and systems running on the same server. Multiple virtual machines can run simultaneously from host machine.
The principle of virtual machines is also as old as computers itself, the first description by Popek and Goldberg already in 1974. (2)
Apps is just short for applications. Applications are just software programmes or sets of programmes designed to allow a user to perform a group of coordinated tasks. Long story short: Business Apps are the software you use to run your business.
Business apps are used to perform and/or measure and/or increase productivity of certain business functions. Like your accounting software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, customer relationship management (CRM), document management, inventory management, communications, procurement, business intelligence dashboards, etc. The list is long and grows faster than I can type.
Modern business without business apps is quite unthinkable. Odds are you are already using a few business apps. If you’re still doing your bookkeeping on spreadsheets and sales pipeline management with whiteboards and markers, you should definitely read on.
Why should you run ‘Business Apps’ on ‘Virtual Machines’ in ‘The Cloud’?
The business benefits for organisations of all sizes are quite staggering. Here’s a list of the major advantages:
- Seriously reduced cost: No capital outlay, low maintenance cost, zero redundancies (pay only for what you use) and generally no binding long-term contracts. Oracle reports that their customers save 30-50% on their infrastructure cost alone by moving apps to the cloud. (3)
- Ease of use: You don’t need a Master’s degree from MIT to operate your new systems, it’s likely to be simpler to use than your old systems. Furthermore, established providers (of the cloud service and the software) will have 24/7 highly accessible support.
- Awesome availability, productivity enhancement, remote work and collaboration capability: It’s simply a good strategy to have in “the new normal”.
- Great flexibility and streamlined apps
- Enhanced security
- Better privacy
- No worries legal compliance (5-7: refer to my article about digital security here)
Try it out for free
Salt Essential IT teamed up with VMWare to offer Namibian organisations and businesses of any size a free trial to try out our virtual machine hosting offering. Click on the banner to apply for a free trial. There is no obligation to buy anything, but be quick, this is a limited offer. Kick-start your digital transformation for free.
- Popek, Gerald J.; Goldberg, Robert P. (1974). “Formal requirements for virtualizable third generation architectures” (PDF). Communications of the ACM. 17 (7): 412-421.
- Clay Magouyrk, SVP of Engineering, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, on Quora, Dec, 19, 2019.