The market for server virtualization is growing extraordinarily quickly. What was only a buzz word a couple years ago has matured into a solid technology and everyone wants to be part of the game
By Hannah Rich on Feb 16, 2011 at 11:38 AM in Engineer Knowledgebase, Opinions from our Team
Server Consolidation and Virtualization
The market for server virtualization is growing extraordinarily quickly. What was only a buzz word a couple years ago has matured into a solid technology and everyone wants to be part of the game.
Virtualization is the abstraction of operating system from underlying hardware. On a virtual server, the operating system, perhaps Windows Server 2008, now sits upon something called a hypervisor. This hypervisor is responsible for talking to the actual hardware of the server, while presenting an abstracted version of that hardware to Windows. In this manner, it is now possible to have multiple servers running on the same hardware and the hypervisor supplies the abstracted hardware to them all.
Today the big players in virtualization technology are VMWare with ESXi, Microsoft with HyperV and Citrix with XenServer and XenDesktop. All of these technologies perform similar functions with slightly different implementations, but with the same goal – server consolidation.
Server Consolidation affects the bottom line in a positive manner for companies large and small. Where before, companies would have to purchase new hardware for each new server they required, today, companies are able to purchase one piece of hardware to potentially run four or five servers. Larger companies are even taking it one step farther by coupling Virtualization technology with a Storage Area Network like NetApp, to keep the physical files of the virtualized server on the SAN and buying commoditized server hardware to run their myriad of virtual servers from across the network. This gives them economy of scale as well as superior mobility. Today’s leading virtualization technology allows servers to be moved from one piece of physical underlying hardware to another, while it is still running and the virtual server never knows anything happened.
These advances in virtualization also affect how much downtime is needed in the event of a catastrophic hardware failure. Because of the rise in virtualization, other supporting industries have been forced to keep pace like PHD Virtual who specializes in backing up and restoring entire virtual servers. Because of this, if the underlying hardware completely failed, the downtime is limited to how quickly new hardware can be acquired and the virtual files copied back to it. This can reduce downtime from days to hours.
Virtualization is now a mature and thriving technology and there is little reason to not adopt it and include it in your IT infrastructure. Have questions? Call CIO Solutions for answers.