Are you using Virtualization in your IT infrastructure? If not, you’re missing out on a lot of benefits, and in this post I’ll explain what they are.
What is Virtualization?
Virtualization lets you run lots of different operating systems on the same physical server at the same time. Each running instance is known as a VM (Virtual Machine) and is logically separated from other VMs on the host. This means a crash or attack on one VM, doesn’t affect other instances on the physical server.
Benefits of Using Virtualization
1. Reduce hardware costs.
As you know, it’s considered best practice to run different applications on their own server. For this reason, you’ll probably have a server room full of servers running a mix of applications on different operating systems and the physical hardware for each of these apps will barely break a sweat.
If the servers are running mostly idle, you’re wasting money because with Virtualization, it would be possible to squeeze all those workloads onto fewer servers, maximizing the efficiency of your hardware.
You’ll also spend less money on hardware support contracts.
2. Reduce electricity consumption.
Did you know that for each physical server you run, you use more electricity, even if the server is running idle?
Yes, CPUs are more efficient these days, and they use less electricity when not in use, but there’s still an overhead required to power the motherboard, hard disks and cooling etc.
If you consolidate your apps onto fewer servers with Virtualization, your gonna see a reduction in electricity usage which will save your company money.
Good for your pocket and the environment.
3. Easier to backup and restore full servers.
In the olden days, full server backups were done with tools like Ghost or Acronis. If you were lucky a bare metal restore to a server with different hardware would boot up. However, you were more likely to encounter the dreaded blue screen of death because of driver issues.
Virtualization makes this problem go away because the hardware is abstracted by the Hypervisor. It doesn’t matter what physical host you load the VM onto, it will power up fine. Backup and restoring VMs, is as simple as copying a few files from one server and moving them to another.
There’s also some neat backup solutions available for Virtualized workloads that Quiesce the filesystem so that backups of running VMs are consistent.
3. Increased application uptime.
One of my favourite features of Virtualization is having the ability to migrate a VM from one physical server to another while its switched on. It really feels like magic. Your apps can now stay running because you can migrate it to a new host while you upgrade the physical hardware.
4. Faster deployment of new machines.
Another great feature is how easy you can deploy a new VM by cloning an existing VM. You can create templates of common server configurations and then deploy from those templates and have a new server runing in no time.
5. Run legacy applications on new hardware.
Sometimes it’s scary replacing hardware for existing applications because you’re not sure they will run on newer tech. With Virtualization the hardware is abstracted and you can do a physical clone to a VM and test it on the new hardware. Now you can decommission the ageing hardware with no worries.
6. Run test operating systems on your workstation.
Virtualization is not just for the data centre. You can get products that allow you to run multiple operating systems on your Windows, Linux or Mac computer. This is a great way for devs to test out applications before deploying them to a production server.
As you can see the major advantage of Virtualization is that it reduces IT costs by requiring less hardware to run the same workloads. There’s also the added benefit of increasing business continuity and improving disaster recovery because of better portability.
Virtualization is a no brainer and that’s why I think every server should be virtualized.
Oh, and you can call yourself a green company :-)
There’s a lot of virtualization products such as VMware, XenServer and KVM. In the coming posts I’ll be writing a series on getting started with Linux KVM.