Virtualization in the IT Environment
While many of us are hearing about this concept for the first time, virtualization first took hold in the enterprise in 2005. When you hear about virtualization, people are usually referring to server virtualization, which means partitioning a server into multiple virtual machines – all residing within one physical device. Basically, virtualization is dis-associating the tight bond between software and hardware.
In other words, if you buy a powerful enough server at today’s inexpensive prices, you can install software that allows the single physical machine to act like multiple servers. The different virtual servers can run different operating systems and multiple applications. Because each virtual machine is isolated from other virtualized machines, if one crashes, it doesn’t affect the others.
What are the benefits of virtual servers?
- Save money – you can turn a single purpose server into a multi-tasking one that can adapt more flexibly to changing workloads while using more of the server total capacity.
- Save energy – no more powering unused server capacity
- Save time – deployment is faster for virtual servers and you can spend less time on the manual tasks needed for maintenance
- Disaster Recovery Planning – you can backup and even migrate entire virtual environments.
Who are the major players?
The major players in this market providing the virtualization software? The big 3 are VMware, Citrix and Microsoft. VMware cornered the market for x86 servers and almost everyone agrees that they are the leader on the platform. However, Microsoft offers it’s virtualization software free of charge.
What are the other types of virtualization?
In addition to server virtualization, the concept is also widely used in the following areas:
- Desktop virtualization: enables a centralized server to deliver and manage individualized desktops remotely.
- Storage virtualization: pooling multiple network storage devices in what appears to be as a single storage device for easier and more efficient management of these resources
- Network virtualization: splits available bandwidth in a network into independent channels that can be assigned to specific servers or devices.
Virtualization has made its way to small business. If you are running a UNIX production system and MAS 200 and Exchange, virtualization allows you to run all of these on a single physical device. Talk about cleaning up a server room!