You might think that using VMware in a small- to medium-sized business (SMB) might be a bit of overkill, since it's usually enterprises that can get the most out of virtualization tools.

But SMBs can get just as much benefit from virtualization, if not more, because the savings on the SMB's IT bottom line could be a great percentage than that of a big company's IT budget.

First, the infrastructure savings while using VMware to run virtual machines on a single device are immediate: you can get multiple servers on one box, thus taking more advantage of the processing power on the machine and saving the costs of buying new machines.

Your electric bill will see some relief, too, since all that power won't be used for the servers and the air conditioning unit that would have to work to keep those machines cool.

Brian Proffitt is a veteran technology journalist, analyst, and author with experience in a variety of technologies, including cloud, virtualization, and consumer devices. Follow him on Twitter @TheTechScribe and Google+ at +Brian Proffitt.

Not many SMBs need the benefits of high availability and high performance computing that virtualization can deliver, but they can certainly take advantage of the business continuity capabilities that virtual systems can provide. With better continuity processes in place, SMBs will suffer fewer hits for downtime and user error.

Backups on virtual systems can be made with great ease, too. If the system is not mission critical, you can just turn the virtual machine off, make a copy of the single big file that acts as the virtual machine's filesystem, and start the VM again. Store the copy off-machine, and without special software, you've just backed up an entire server.

Deploying new machines is very easy with virtualization, too. Instead of having to buy a new server, set it up and install a new operating system on the device, you can just take a copy of an existing server configuration, start it, and install a new OS on the virtual machine, often with a single command in the virtualization software.

This not only puts new machines into a production environment, it also lets SMBs do something they might never have tried before, given the expense of setting up a physical machine: create test environments.

Enterprises know all about test environments: it's critical to run a system within a protected state before putting that machine and its applications into "real" use. SMBs, because they didn't have the resources to set up test devices, would rarely consider such a step.

With virtualization, however, test environments are a snap to set up and use for confirming a new operating system or application will do what it's advertised to do--all without risking your real data.

Virtualization brings flexibility into an SMB's IT process, while also delivering real cost savings almost immediately. Not a bad combination for SMBs stretching every dollar.