IT Dojo: Five things you should know about virtualization
November 10, 2008, 8:13am PST | Length: 00:06:51
Whether it's through consolidating a data center, deploying software appliances or streaming applications, virtualization will bring dramatic change to IT over the next decade. In this IT Dojo video, Bill Detwiler discusses five things you should know before going too deep down the virtualization rabbit hole.
Once you’ve watched this IT Dojo video, you can find a link to the original TechRepublic article and print the tip from our IT Dojo Blog.
Bill Detwiler: If you're not working with virtualization today, you likely will be. Whether it's through consolidating a data center, deploying software appliances or streaming applications, virtualization will bring dramatic change to IT over the next decade.
I'm Bill Detwiler and in this IT Dojo video, I'll cover five things you should know before you go too deep down the virtualization rabbit hole.
First, virtualization is more the just VMWare. You should decide what you want to accomplish with virtualization technology and then choose the appropriate solution. If you're just looking to try out a new operating system or some applications that won t run in your primary OS, a low-cost or free VM program, such as VMWare Workstation or Microsoft's Virtual PC, will do the job.
On the other hand, if you need to consolidate several servers and achieve maximum scalability and security, you'll need a more robust solution that includes sophisticated management features. You'll want to evaluate VMWare s ESX Servers, Microsoft s Virtual Server, or Hyper-V for Windows Server 2008.
And, of course, don't underestimate the value of all the free tools out there. In addition to free VMware Workstation and Microsoft's Virtual PC, you can use VMware Server, Citrix XenServer Express, and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 for jobs that don't require a full enterprise suite of tools.
Second, check the licensing requirements first.
Although many analysts believe virtualization will force software vendors to change their licensing strategies, today most vendors consider a virtual machine to be no different from a physical computer. In other words, you'll still need a software license for every instance of the operating system or application you install, whether on a separate physical machine or in a VM on the same machine.
There may also be restrictions in the EULA of either the guest or host OS regarding virtualization. For example, when Windows Vista was released, the licensing agreements for the Home Basic and Home Premium versions prohibited running those operating systems in virtual machines, but Microsoft has since changed those licensing terms in response to customer input.
Windows Server 2008 s EULA provides for a certain number of virtual images that can be run on the OS, depending on the edition. This ranges from none on Web edition to one on Standard, four on Enterprise, and an unlimited number on Datacenter and Itanium editions
Third, 64 bits are better than 32. If you're particularly interested in server virtualization, consider deploying a 64-bit host operating system.
64-bit processors support a larger memory address space, and Windows 64-bit operating systems support much larger amounts of RAM (and in some cases, more processors) than their 32-bit counterparts.
If you plan to use Windows Server 2008 s Hyper-V role for virtualization, you have no choice. It will be available only in the 64-bit versions of the OS.
A virtual appliance is simply a purpose-built virtual machine that provides a canned set of functionality from the start. Virtual appliances can provide DHCP roles, provide chargeback to virtual environments, act as Wiki servers for intranets, and to fulfill many other purposes.
Many virtual machines are available for free with open source applications and free operating systems. The VA model can be a big aid in bringing specific functionality to your infrastructure without additional licensing or hardware costs. Many VAs also work on the free virtualization products, so you don't tie up expensive hardware resources on your enterprise virtualization system, should you wish to conserve availability.
Fifth, virtualization can increase security.
Isolating server roles in separate virtual machines instead of running many server applications on the same operating system instance can provide added security. You can also set up a virtual machine to create a "sandbox," where you can run applications that might pose a security risk.
Virtual machines are also commonly used for creating "honeypots" or "honeynets." These are systems or entire networks set up to emulate a production environment with the intention of attracting attackers (and at the same time, diverting them away from the real production resources).
Virtualization is also a boon for disaster prevention and recovery operations as virtual machines can be redeployed much more quickly than physical boxes.
I've highlighted only a few of the areas that you'll want to consider as you decide how virtualization fits into your organization's IT roadmap.
For more advice on choosing and deploying the right virtualization technology for your organization, check out our download, "20 things you should know about virtualization," by Deb Shinder. It's the basis for this video is based, and I'll link to it from the IT Dojo blog.
And as always, for more teachings on your path to becoming an IT Ninja, visit itdojo.techrepublic.com. And please let us know if this tip was helpful.
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I'm Bill Detwiler. Thanks for visiting TechRepublic's IT Dojo.