Server virtualization is an effective strategy for meeting any number of business computing goals. It allows organizations, for example, to consolidate application workloads running on underutilized servers, which results in direct reductions in hardware, energy, and infrastructure management costs.
It also can strengthen the reliability and availability of applications, streamline the backup of data, and improve disaster recovery.
In short, virtualization lets organizations spend less on deploying and maintaining the computing infrastructure while achieving better IT service in the process. Or, to put it another way: virtualization delivers more ‘bang’ for the IT buck, which has a positive impact on the overall business balance sheet.
Achieving the benefits of virtualization, however, requires effort. Contrary to much of the hype surrounding server virtualization, the benefits are not guaranteed and they do not come about automatically. Server virtualization involves technical skills that may be new to the organization and entails careful planning. Not every virtualization strategy is well conceived or properly executed; not every seller of virtualization technology can make it work for a given organization. For most organizations virtualization requires enlisting the help of an experienced, knowledgeable consultant to guide them through the process.
Server virtualization is a simple concept based on the fact that most servers are grossly underutilized, representing a huge waste of the IT resource. Virtualization uses a hypervisor—software that transparently doles out server resources and prevents resource conflicts—to enable multiple applications to share the same physical server, which greatly increases utilization. Although the concept is simple, there are some challenges when it comes to implementation. Here are the first two virtualization challenges:
1. Workload capacity and performance planning—with one application per lightly utilized server, capacity and performance planning aren’t usually an issue. Virtualization, however, greatly increases the utilization. Now you have to consider workload capacity and performance. Not every application is suitable for virtualization. You need to look at things like present and future usage and workload patterns.
2. Systems architecture and design—considerations here range from overall budget issues to system component selection decisions to assessing current and future business needs and mapping them to the IT infrastructure. How much CPU, how much storage capacity, how much network bandwidth, and the cost of each component must be assessed.
Our next blog post will explore the remaining 3 challenges with server virtualization. What about you? What experiences have you had with these challenges? Or, feel free to share your own challenges with server virtualization. We’d love to hear what you have to say!