Advantages of Virtualization
Author: Chip Wenz
Back in the dark ages of personal computers, say the 1980’s, it was a time when applications were pushing the boundaries of what computers were capable of doing. The hardware of the time was hard pressed to keep up with everything that was being asked of it. Fast forward to the mid to late 1990’s and we saw that high performance hardware was becoming not only more available, but also more affordable. Today dual core machines are becoming common place and quad core and higher are making their way onto the scene. It comes down to the simple fact that the hardware is no longer the bottle-neck in computer operations; it is the applications that we run on these computers that are no longer keeping up with the times.
Say for example we want to create a file server; of course we will need to have lots of storage space, but accessing this data will not put much strain on the processor or processor cores on this machine. To better utilize the resources on this machine, we decide to add other services onto this computer. Even though we are now using the computer resources more efficiently, we are also opening up the computer to a wider range of possible attacks. This is where virtualization comes in. We can utilize the resources of the computer much more efficiently and still keep our systems optimized and secure for the type of role that they play in our overall IT environment.
Along with increasing the security of the services running on the server and utilizing the resources of the computer more efficiently, we also get the following advantages from virtualizing our server infrastructure; server consolidation, enhanced recoverability and dynamic server environments.
Among the advantages that you receive by consolidating your server can be applied directly to your bottom line. If you currently have 24 servers in your datacenter; with virtualization you can reduce that number to 3. With fewer servers to purchase and maintain the savings can add up pretty quickly. Also because you are using fewer servers to do the same amount of work as before, you will also see a savings on electricity and cooling in your data centers.
Because our reliance on our computer infrastructure has grown, being without our data is something that we cannot put up with for very long. Because of this we find the need to recover from any disasters more quickly and maintain our access to data very important to our business. Virtualization allows us to periodically take snapshots of our computers so that in case of an unforeseen shutdown, we can restore the snapshot and have our machines up and running much faster than having to go through a normal system restore from backup.
When we purchase our servers for production we routinely think of what our company’s needs are right now and maybe if we are lucky and have some extra money in our budget, we can purchase a machine that will be able to meet our needs in the future. When we are doing this purchase we are really gambling on what we think is the right course of action because we are buying a machine for a specific task and that is all that computer will be used for. So what if something that we did not expect happens? Our company decides to purchase a couple of other companies and now we have to support them from this computer that we just bought and find out that our brand new machine is not able to handle the amount of traffic that is required. Sure we can add more hardware to the situation either by scaling our current machine up, or buying more machines and scaling the application out, but there could be another solution to this problem. In the beginning we had decided to virtualize our data center so instead of having to purchase new computers we can either add more of the existing resources of the host computer to the virtual machine or if there is not enough resources on that machine, move the virtual machine in its entirety to another host machine that does have more resources.
As I hope you can see virtualization can give your company the flexibility, recoverability and cost savings that are required to compete in today’s rapidly changing IT environment.