With the increasing need for IT departments to consolidate servers and reduce costs, virtualization is making a comeback.
While Virtualization has been around since IBM
mainframes ruled the world but it was not until VMware pioneered
virtualization on Intel chipsets that this technology really began to
In the beginning days of IBM, their
was a huge cost involved in the virtualization of the their chipset. In
addition to the cost, virtualization took up so much of the processor’s
power that the systems ran slow and were not cost effective.
Additionally, the technology on the chipsets was far behind where it
needed to be.
Let’s fast forward to today where
we are seeing Pentium IV chips with blazing speeds, cheap computers,
and a more open market for virtualization to occur. Now that computers
are so inexpensive, more and more IT shops are receptive to the idea of
Many of these companies need a more
efficient way consolidate their IT network infrastructure. With the
lower cost of hardware combined with the rapid improvements in
technology, virtualization is becoming increasingly popular.
As a technical consultant in the
field, I am seeing the adoption of virtual machines due to the vast
number of underutilized servers that are wasting space and costing
companies thousands of dollars. These days, every third-party vendor
has stringent requirements for their applications, and common practice
for many years was to meet these requirements by freely purchasing what
In most cases, this caused numerous
servers to sit underutilized. This trend continued throughout the
dot-com era and the IT boom. Then the IT meltdown occurred, and
virtualization began to finally shine.
The slump caused companies
throughout the U.S. to look very closely at their budgets and the
amount of money they were spending on computers — especially leased
computers — and it didn’t take very long for them to realize that
server consolidation was the way to go.
For example, if you have a single
quad processor running at 8% and sitting idle for 92% of the time and
you need additional servers, virtualization would be able to
efficiently and cost-effectively take advantage of that machine rather
than purchasing additional servers. I have seen server rooms with
100-plus servers drop to 25 servers with a NAS or SAN because they were
taking advantage of virtualization.
Everywhere you look, there is a
need that virtualization can meet. Take the companies today that are
still using business software that runs only in a Windows NT 4.0
environment; they may not have the time, money, or ability to purchase
an upgraded version of NT but the need to move their business to the
latest Microsoft operating system exists nonetheless.
Virtualization is the solution to
this incompatibility. The company can upgrade their domain to Windows
2003 server, install a virtual product, and load Windows NT 4.0. Then
the legacy applications can be run on the virtual server.
Or consider the many businesses
that need the ability to have zero downtime and in addition want to be
able to fully utilize their two- and four-processor servers. By using
the virtualization technology, companies are able to run more
applications on a single server than ever before. With the ability to
move virtual systems around as necessary and the small amount of
overhead needed to run this technology, virtualization is becoming more
and more popular for companies to implement.
Two of the more popular vendors in
this area include: VMware (an EMC Corp. company as of Q1 2004) and
Microsoft (formerly known as Connectix). VMware has been in the
virtualization market for quite some time and has an extensive product
line. Their flagship products include VMWARE Workstation, GSX and ESX
Microsoft recently entered the
virtualization market as well with their buyout of Connectix. Their
current product Virtual PC 2004 and Virtual Server also takes advantage
of virtualization of Intel based systems.
Virtualization is cost effective
way to add additional value to your company and is the wave of the
future for corporate networks to meet their needs.