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Dated: Jun. 16, 2012

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Overview of Virtualization

Virtualization is a process in which a physical computer a.k.a. host computer contains virtual machines that are stored in them in form of files. These virtual machines act exactly the way the physical computers do and can be mapped with the NICs of the host computers. Once mapped, the operating systems installed inside the virtual machines (Guest Operating Systems) can then communicate with the host computers as well as the network setups to which the host computers might be connected.

In IT industry, the term virtualization is frequently used nowadays. The reason behind this is that with the help of virtualization solutions, organizations can reduce their expenses remarkably while providing better user experiences to the end-users at the same time. When virtualization technology is implemented in any organization, the entire configuration and functioning of the technology remains completely transparent to the users. This means that if administrators have created virtual machines inside the host computers and have connected them with the physical network environments, users who access their data that might reside inside virtual machines would never know if they were accessing their data from the virtual machines or from the host computers.

Monetary Benefits of Implementing Virtualization

VMWareAs mentioned above, implementation of virtualization technology remarkably decreases organizations’ expenses; host computers that contain multiple virtual machines (VMs) in them provide the following key benefits to the organizations:

  • Virtual machines eliminate, or at least reduce, the requirements of physical computers in any organization. Organizations prefer purchasing a single host computer with high configuration rather than purchasing several physical computers. Investing in one high configuration computer still proves to be a cheaper solution.
  • Since a host computer can contain multiple virtual machines, the required number of physical computers is reduced, and with this virtualization solution also reduces the consumption of electricity which further reduces amount of electricity bills.
  • Because several virtual machines can be stored in single hard disk drives of the host computers, only the space for host computers is required. For example, if an organization requires 200 servers but instead of purchasing 200 hardware boxes, the organization purchased 20 high configuration servers and installed and configured 10 virtual machines on each server box. This setup occupies the physical space that is required to place only 20 computers in a server room rather than arranging for an area for 200 physical computers.

Technical Aspects of Implementing Virtualization Solution

Although implementation of virtualization solution requires highly skilled technical professionals, it is still feasible for the organizations to go for it. This is because virtualization solution, when implemented, requires less manpower. Considering above example, since only 20 host computers that contain 10 guest computers each are required to be managed rather than managing 200 physical computers, organizations can reduce the number of administrators that it hires.

Since multiple virtual machines are stored in fewer physical hardware boxes, the entire virtual network setup provides centralized management, and the entire setup can be managed from a central location.

Because several virtual machines reside inside host computers and the VMs are merely the files (from the host computers’ perspective), they are easy to backup and restore in case disaster occurs. However, if backups are not taken on a regular basis, and if disaster occurs, virtualization solution can also prove to be a single point of failure.

Different Virtualization Platforms

There are multiple vendors in the market that are considered big players of virtualization products. Products released by these vendors perform more or less identical tasks but have different method of doing so. Some products do not require host operating systems to be installed on host computers whereas other products do. Below is the list of virtualization applications that are in mostly demand these days and when these applications are properly implemented, the solution is known as Server Virtualization:

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 (Hyper-v) – Comes with price tag
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 – Free
  • VMware vSphere 5.0 – Comes with price tag
  • Citrix XenServer – Basic edition is free but can be upgraded to other editions that have price tags
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization 3 – Annual paid subscriptions are required

Organizations choose virtualization products depending on the precise requirements and/or the expertise of the technical teams that they have. In any case, server virtualization proves to be a cost-effective and easy-to-manage solution in every aspect.

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