Two experts from Symantec recently joined us and over 100 members of the small business community on Twitter, on the topic of virtualizing your technology. Virtualization technology can help you reduce IT hardware costs, maintenance costs and even utility costs — not to mention create efficiencies in your internal processes.
Many SMB owners and managers are familiar with the concept of cloud software applications and software-as-a-service accessed through the Internet. But you may not be as familiar with virtual servers and virtualizing your technology. So it was an excellent way for entrepreneurs to better understand virtualization technology.
The two Symantec subject matter experts were:
- Dan Nadir, senior director of Product Management, SMB and Symantec.Cloud, Symantec – @SymantecSMB 
- Elias AbuGhazaleh, director of Engineering, Backup Exec, IMG, Symantec – @BE_Elias 
Below are some of the tips they shared during the chat:
Q1: What kind of technology can you take virtual? Is it all about servers? Or more?
A1: Any type of application (email, accounting, CRM) can be virtualized. SMBs often start with productivity applications. @SymantecSMB
Q2: What are the biggest benefits for SMBs of going virtual with technology?
A2: One of the best benefits we’ve seen is an improvement in efficiency because physical IT resources are simplified. – @SymantecSMB
A2: The ability to use fewer servers for the same number of applications http://t.co/aPepmHmc – @BE_Elias
Q3: What are the biggest challenges of adopting virtual solutions?
A3: Security is also a continuing concern for virtual environments just as with physical network components. – @BE_Elias
A3: Adoption is THE biggest challenge. Next would be the learning curve – @LBarraco
A3: How much IT know-how is required to virtualize on site? – @Robert_Brady
A3: It is fairly simple utilizing #VMware or #HyperV, it is a simple installation (in my opinion) -@BE_Elias
Q4: Does virtualized technology automatically solve security issues – example: antivirus and firewall in servers? #SMBchat
A4: Previously implemented security tools may need to be reconfigured or replaced in order to maintain adequate protection. @SymantecSMB
Q5: What steps should small businesses take to secure virtualized hardware such as servers?
A5: Consider security solutions needed to secure your virtual environment: firewall, antivirus, and endpoint security. @BE_Elias
A5: Update software regularly & secure passwords that are regularly updated. @robert_brady
A5: having scheduled password updates (30 days), checking spam folders and out boxs, running virus protection routinely @SoukleATL
Q6: What about security of virtualized software such as cloud email and documents?
A6 A recent survey shows employees will often go around IT and use cloud apps, exposing the company to high risks. – @SymantecSMB
A6: The Ponemon 2011 Cost of a Data Breach Report stated that 41% of breaches were caused by a third party. – @BE_Elias
Q7: What about data backup in a virtualized environment? Concerns? Benefits?
A7: Carefully consider the user interface. A simpler solution will save a significant amount of time in the long run. @BE_Elias
A7: Virtual servers can be way cheaper than having an in-house server grid. – @andrewbamazing
A7: Nearly half of SMBs would lose 40% of their data in disaster, acc to Symantec research: http://t.co/aZ4TQAxm  – @TJMcCue
Q8: What are some best practices if you are considering virtualization but haven’t yet jumped in?
A8: You can work with a consultant/reseller on a strategy. They can help determine your needs and help with implementation – @SymantecSMB
A8: Before going live, perform testing to make sure everything is working as it should. – @BE_Elias
A8: Here’s a paper on how to successfully implement virtualization in your organization: http://t.co/fF3QlHn7  – @BE_Elias
BONUS: For current information on virtualization, check out Symantec’s SMB Virtualization Clinic: http://t.co/WEISveKb  – @SymantecSMB
Many thanks to Symantec for sponsoring this chat and to Dan Nadir and Elias AbuGhazaleh, the Symantec subject matter experts, for being available to the small business community and sharing their knowledge.