The surge of server virtualization has produced many benefits for IT departments because it allows for better operational control, lowering of existing cost, and better scaling than we’ve ever had before. Let’s look at the top 5 benefits that server virtualization brings to IT operations, as well as the infrastructure improvements that we also gain by virtualizing our networking, storage, and server platforms.
The last few years have seen a shift in the computer industry from deploying new applications, new services and new opportunities, to a focus on managing the infrastructure that we already have. The level of innovation of new software and capabilities has now slowed because our operational practices have not managed to keep up.
Therefore, many organizations are looking to virtualization to find ways to dramatically simplify the ownership and administration of their existing IT servers. The operational overhead of staffing, powering, backup, hardware, and software maintenance has now become overly significant in IT budgets, and businesses are looking to reduce their costs through virtualization. Learn More About SolarWinds Virtualization Manager.
Reducing the operational cost is a difficult issue. On one hand, it’s about using less people and fewer resources to achieve more work. Alternately, automation of simple, repetitive tasks can mean no more tedious drudgery of minor works. Virtualization provides options for all of these problems.
VMware is proud of their PowerCLI scripting environment that provides for extensive customization and automation of VMware vSphere. There are also dozens of APIs that have been published to create opportunities for third parties to develop management software that provides better visibility, planning, and reporting than has ever been possible.
Because the server operating system becomes encapsulated in a Hypervisor, we can now take a snapshot of the current configurations and then perform upgrades. In the event that the upgrade fails, we can use the snapshot to return to the original working condition. This dramatically reduces risk level of making the wrong changes to your infrastructure because the rollback process is now so much simpler. Download a FREE 30-Day Trial of SolarWinds Virtualization Manager.
The use of external storage has created new solutions to old problems in the disk drive and backup strategy of the Data Center. Storage arrays provide new forms of backup by performing block level copies of the hard disk drive. Because the storage is centrally arranged, de-duplication of data is now a mainstream technology, either in-line for all data or in backup for reduced backup sizes.
Recent innovations in storage include the development of storage APIs, where the virtualization server can programmatically manage elements of the storage arrays. For example, VAAI (vStorage APIs for Array Integration) from VMware allows the offload of storage processing from the VMware server to the Storage Array, in addition to allowing scripting of the storage subsystem to create and monitor the storage from a single administration console.
Virtualization has created a stimulus for the storage vendors to develop new products and features that has led to significant changes and advances. This change has led the vendors to develop APIs and interfaces that provide better administration and management than ever before.
The ability to load multiple operating system instances onto a single physical server has many operational benefits. Perhaps the most significant but misunderstood is the ability to scale your Data Center with many more servers than you have physical space.
Today one physical server contains one operating system, and we have advanced the physical manufacture of servers to 1 RU size to minimize the physical footprint. Using virtualization, we are now able to put 20, 30, and even many more operating system instances in a single box.
The current state of silicon production is such that CPU and memory has more capacity and performance than we need for most processing loads of today. Most of us have a number of servers in a Data Center perform small but vital tasks, and Virtualization allows us to collapse these into a very high density cluster that uses much less space and ultimately allows for better scaling of your Data Center.
Where once your Data Center might have held 300 physical servers, it’s not uncommon for people to plan to hold 3,000 servers in the same space. This scaling capability comes with progressively smooth costs that are so important for project budgets.
Those are the top 5 benefits that server virtualization brings to IT operations – cost control, better operation with automation, ability to reduce risks with snapshots, storage management, and granular scaling.