To understand the advantages of virtualization, consider this: how much more efficiently could your IT department run if you have four times as many servers as you do now? How about five times as many? How many more applications could you run, how much more data could you process in a single work day?
Now imagine all those additional servers doing their jobs without taking up any more space than your current ones do. They consume no more electricity, require no more hardware maintenance, and, perhaps best of all, you’ll never have to allocate resources to purchase them. Sound too good to be true?
Welcome to the world of virtualization, the most revolutionary thing to happened to enterprise-level IT since the invention of the personal computer. If makes the above scenario a reality for those firms that have tapped into its benefits.
What Is Virtualization?
To answer this question in the simplest possible terms, imagine a physical server sitting in a data center that has adapted virtualization technology. To your eyes it looks like a single device meant to do a single job, which is to process information. But, if you could look at the actual functions going on inside that server, you would see multiple applications governed by multiple operating systems. And each app and each OS thinks that it’s the only one installed on that server.
It would be like having ten different installations of Windows on your desktop PC, all of them performing different tasks for you simultaneously, with no loss of efficiency. And, if one of those installations were to suddenly crash, the others would keep chugging along, blissfully unaware of the problems their neighbor was having. That’s what virtualization does inside of servers. It turns one into several, without taking up additional space, drawing additional power, or requiring additional maintenance.
How Does This Work?
The secret ingredient that makes this seeming miracle possible is called a hypervisor. It’s a set of software that sits in between the server’s hardware and the multiple operating systems installed on it. It manages the access each OS has to the processor and other physical components such as memory.
In addition, the hypervisor can create virtual copies of each piece of hardware, so that every application has access to its own processor, its own memory, and its own disk input/output resources. With this technology a server can go from doing a single task to performing multiples ones all at once, and a group of servers can be turned into a pool of raw computing power able to adjust instantaneously to varying workloads.
Advantages Of Virtualization
In addition to multiplying the number of servers available for your company’s use, virtualization also offers these benefits:
1. Energy savings – Virtualization allows firms to reduce the number of physical servers in their data centers, saving money on the amount of power needed to operate them and keep them cool.
2. Time savings – Fewer physical servers means less time and less money spent on maintenance chores. At the same time, by pooling multiple devices into a single virtual one, jobs such as backing up, archiving, and retrieving data can be done quicker and easier than ever before. And, should a new server be needed, creating and activating a virtual one is a much simpler task than buying and installing a physical one.
3. Enhanced efficiency – With virtualization, desktop and laptop PCs across your organization can be updated all at once, rather than one at a time. New applications and security upgrades will be installed simultaneously on every machine in every workspace across your company.
The Bottom Line
Businesses of all sizes are struggling to compete in today’s economic environment. To maintain their edge they must squeeze as much efficiency and productivity as possible out of every available resource. Virtualization gives them the ability to multiply their computing power many times over, in exchange for a minimal investment. Those who take advantage of this technology will find themselves ascending to the top of their industry, while the ones that fail to do so will lag ever further behind.
For managers who want their firms to prosper and succeed, the way forward is clear.