The introduction of virtualisation into operating systems, and the massive acceptance it has found, has revolutionised the hosting industry. Virtualisation works by sharing the hardware resources of a server between a number of “virtual” servers – these virtual servers are completely independent of each other, with their own memory and storage allocations, but can take advantage of fast CPUs and RAID-protected storage present on the hardware server. Virtual servers can also reduce the amount of server capacity “wasted” by servers that are not fully utilised (they can be consolidated as virtual servers on a single hardware server), and doing this kind of consolidation can reduce an organisation’s hosting costs dramatically.
As several VPSs can be run on a single piece of hardware, they are cheaper than dedicated servers, but are still extremely useful for both large and small sites wishing to improve their site availability. For testing new software, a VPS can be an extremely cost-effective way of performing an evaluation, removing the need to dedicate hardware to the process or having to risk installing the new software into an existing environment. VPSs could also be used to separate “internal” systems from public or mission-critical servers, e.g. running an internal issue tracker in a VPS rather than on the main web server, to avoid “internal” resource usage from affecting public sites and vice versa.
As VPSs are normal, full operating system installs, they need to be administered in the same way a dedicated servers – although their cost is lower, they require the same care and attention. Birmingham Open Source Solutions offers a “Managed VPS” service, performing the same duties, but on a VPS rather than a full dedicated server.
Due to the way that different resources are required by different applications, and the way the different amounts of hardware resources can be allocated to VPSs, there is no “one size fits all” solution, but managed VPSs start from £15/month.