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Old State House Museum


Virtualization: Changing the Reality of Information Technology

Virtualization — the science of enabling one computer or server do the work of many — is altering the way businesses manage computing resources and changing the skills they expect from their IT staffs. In an industry driven by emerging technology, virtualization is the Next Big Thing, delivering efficient hardware use, better resource allocation, flexible application services and lower costs.

In essence, virtualization lets you transform hardware into software. Use software such as VMware ESX Server to transform or “virtualize” the hardware resources of an x86-based computer — including the CPU, RAM, hard disk and network controller — to create a fully functional virtual machine that can run its own operating system and applications just like a “real” computer. This means that multiple virtual machines share hardware resources without interfering with each other so that you can safely run several operating systems and applications at the same time on a single computer.

The concept behind virtualization isn't new. IBM has been doing this on its mainframes for more than 30 years, and we've had blade servers for the past five years. But what is new is that the power of a virtual machine can be delivered to the PC platform specifically for x86-based hardware, giving flexibility to use the technology in ways that it wasn't originally intended.

The standard for x86 servers was to run one application on one server. And that was fine when servers were cheap to buy and cheap to run. But then things started to get messy as more and more servers were added to meet application demand. Data center managers were facing serious usage issues, spending millions on wasted server space and energy to cool all those servers.

But with virtualization, that can change. Instead of running one e-mail application on a dedicated server, you can run that e-mail application, mobile messaging, databases and other software on a single server, all isolated into virtual operating system images that won't affect each other. Server virtualization lets programs share hardware, even though they don't share operating systems. The result is significant cost savings from reduced equipment, administrative and facilities expenses.

Advantages of Server Virtualization

It doesn't take an accountant to understand the cost savings in the process, whether getting the most from your hardware or reducing expenses in storage, space, hardware and utilities. Virtualization can enable anyone who uses a computer to save time, money and energy while achieving more with the computer hardware they already own.

The potential of virtualization is compelling: A recent study from research group Info-Tech shows that businesses adopting virtualization realize a 40 to 75 percent reduction in hardware acquisition costs and monthly recurring savings in hardware maintenance costs of 25 to 50 percent.

At the enterprise level, server virtualization brings these advantages to companies that embrace it:

  1. More efficient use of server assets. Virtualization allows one server to be partitioned into several virtual servers. This increases the capacity utilization per server, which can dramatically cut hardware, real estate and energy costs.
  2. Simplified server administration and increased reliability across servers and multiple operating systems.
  3. Easier management of IT assets and information. Virtualization can facilitate tasks such as back up and testing.
  4. Potential for Linux and Windows compatibility. Linux and Windows can share resources in a virtualized server. And as those two operating systems are the majority of the unit installed base today, virtualization might solve the problem of Linux and Windows interoperability.
  5. Less expensive disaster recovery. Instead of paying for a duplicate data center, virtualization allows application environments to be re-created on fewer off-site servers. This changes the classical "backup-and-restore" philosophy, by providing backup images that can "boot" into live virtual machines, capable of taking over workload for a production server experiencing an outage.
  6. More efficient testing and training. Hardware virtualization can give root access to a virtual machine. This can be very useful for software development, testing and deployment.

Gain An Understanding Of The Options Available

When considering virtualization for your business, it's important to gain an understanding of the options available simply because of the technology's potential to influence every area of your business and IT infrastructure. The current key focus areas are:

  • Server virtualization. This is the most common application of virtualization in businesses. The market leader and Hardwyre partner, VMware, offers the ESX Server, Microsoft offers with Virtual Server, and new releases from Virtual Iron and XenSource bring other options.
  • Storage virtualization. It provides the ability to pool many different individual types of physical storage and manage these as logical pools of data that can be allocated to different applications and services as needed.
  • Software virtualization. This continues the common theme of abstracting the service or application away from its physical environment, enabling it to exist and run in any location. Virtualization enables the co-existence of applications on the same physical environment by encapsulating them so everything they need to run is available within a virtual environment.
  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. VDI takes the concept of the virtual machine and uses it to run multiple PC clients rather than servers, thus virtualizing your PC requirements rather than having to run physical desktops in your organization.
  • Data Center. Network Virtualization consolidates individual virtual environments into a logical whole and leads to a complete abstraction of these from any physical elements. Once infrastructure has become virtualized, it frees organizations up to treat their IT environment as a utility supplier. Storage and processing power can be allocated and used by services and applications as required, and use of resources can be maximized without the risk of over provisioned capacity being wasted.

Virtualization provides businesses with the flexibility to change the way they do IT. Saving time, money, and resources while preserving investments and enhancing operations are pretty powerful arguments for deploying virtualization technology. The business world appears to be ready for it — are you?

To learn more about virtualization, call your Hardwyre network engineer today at 501.851.2880. We'd love to have a conversation about the ways it can positively impact your business and your bottom line.

Hardwyre, Inc. a 804 Edgewood a Maumelle, AR 72113 a 501.851.2880 a info@hardwyre.com
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