Server Virtualization Solutions

Virtualization is being thrown at us from all directions.  All the major vendors are moving into this arena.  Virtualization is enabling companies to lower data center costs, automate systems and network management, and improve access to leading-edge technologies across the enterprise.  So, what exactly is virtualization? To put it in the most simplistic terms, virtualization technology is a way of making a physical computer function as if it were two or more computers or even a totally different computer altogether. Obviously, this is a very simple explanation of a complex term, however, it’s enough to get you started down that road of thinking.

Virtualization should be thought of as an abstraction layer that separates the physical hardware from a single operating system. It allows a single physical machine to run multiple virtual machines with heterogeneous operating systems, side-by-side in isolation. These virtual machines can then be allowed to either interoperate or they can be totally unaware of each other. Each virtual machine operates with their own set of virtual hardware (Processor, Memory, Network Adapter, Hard Drive, etc.) and is then loaded with its own operating system and applications. The virtual machine’s operating system (or guest operating system) sees a consistent or normalized set of hardware regardless of the underlying physical hardware.

The following are several advantages of virtualization: 

  • Server Consolidation: By combining workloads from a number of physical hosts into a single host, a reduction in servers can be achieved and a corresponding decrease in interconnect hardware. Traditionally, these workloads would need to be specially crafted, partially isolated and well behaved, but with new virtualization techniques none of these requirements are necessary.

  • Reduction of Complexity: Infrastructure costs are massively reduced by removing the need for physical hardware, and networking. Instead of having a large number of physical computers, all networked together, consuming power and administration costs, fewer computers can be used to achieve the same goal. Administration and physical setup is less time consuming and costly.

  • Isolation: Virtual machines run in sand-boxed environments. Virtual machines cannot access the resources of other virtual machines. If one virtual machine performs poorly, or crashes, it does not affect any other virtual machine.

  • Platform Uniformity: In a virtualized environment, a broad, heterogeneous array of hardware components is distilled into a uniform set of virtual devices presented to each guest operating system. This reduces the impact across the IT organization: from support, to documentation, to tools engineering.

  • Legacy Support: With traditional bare-metal operating system installations, when the hardware vendor replaces a component of a system, the operating system vendor is required to make a corresponding change to enable the new hardware (for example, an Ethernet card). As an operating system ages, the operating system vendor may no longer provide hardware enabling updates. In a virtualized operating system, the hardware remains constant for as long as the virtual environment is in place, regardless of any changes occurring in the real hardware, including full replacement.