Virtualisation has undoubtedly become a key development in the IT landscape. It appeals in so many ways covering areas such as effectiveness, efficiency, cost savings and even ecological concerns so it’s not surprising virtualization has been adopted by more and more organisations involved in various industries such as financial and online publishing.
What is virtualisation?
It’s a way of extending the use of hardware resources through the deployment of certain types of software. It effectively provides the potential to use existing hardware resources to extend and diversify the IT set-up’s capacity and capabilities.
This clearly has a significant benefit in that investment in hardware can be drastically reduced or even removed yet enable the IT resources to meet changing demands.
Many IT departments are finding the demands for computing power are rising sharply – a price of progress perhaps – but there is often pressure to keep costs down at the same time. It’s not always desirable or always physically possible to invest in hardware to meet increasing demands. Virtualization has certainly addressed these conflicting demands.
Virtualisation software enables servers to be controlled and pooled. Taking it to the next stage, storage can be virtualized with a compatible SAN (Storage Area Network) such as SvSAN from virtual storage specialists StorMagic used in conjunction with a hypervisor such as VMware’s vSphere.
Thanks to virtual machine desktop software, it’s possible for the same number of servers to provide enhanced levels of computing power as and when demands increase. This means existing hardware can be deployed without having to invest in more, so money is saved as is the need to maybe acquire more physical space to house it. There’s also no increase in the carbon footprint due to resource-hungry machines being added.
If a server goes down or there are other operational problems such as crashes, the possible hours of time taken over disaster recovery can be cut to a few moments as there is usually a built-in fail-safe to re-deploy resources or get up and running again quickly from a copy (a virtual image).
Dynamic load balancing
As workloads vary, virtualisation makes provision for certain that may be becoming overloaded by re-distributing demands instantly among the available hardware.
Compared to the need on occasions to remove and replace hardware to accommodate changing demands, with virtualisation it’s usually possible to reconfigure the software with a short session at a console without disruption or having to close hardware down during the process.
Energy and environmental
Hardware uses power and, therefore, contributes to an organisation’s carbon footprint. There’s also the likely need to factor in cooling requirements such as air conditioning which adds to power consumption, so virtualisation can make a big difference both financially and environmentally.
Another consideration is the space hardware takes up, and more hardware will sooner or later mean a need for more space which in itself cases upheaval and is costly. Again, virtualisation removes the need for increased space while allowing you to extend your IT system’s capabilities.