Hardware

The Virtualization Comeback!

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

gain momentum.

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

virtualization.

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

was necessary.

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

Server.

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.

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