A Key Question in Enterprise Virtualization: What to Virtualize?
Businesses should examine virtualization closely before deciding to implement it.
Virtualization is the most effective way for enterprises to reduce their IT costs. It enables any size of business to boost efficiency and agility. Enterprise virtualization has the following advantages:
- We can run multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer.
- We can consolidate hardware to achieve higher productivity from fewer servers.
- We can save up to 50% on overall IT cost.
- We can have a simple IT infrastructure with very low maintenance.
- We can deploy new applications much faster than to non-virtual environments.
- We can ensure up to 80% usage of servers.
- We can ensure an environment that is robust, affordable and available all the time.
- We can reduce the number of hardware resources to a ratio of 10:1, or even better in some cases.
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Components of Enterprise Virtualization
To understand key areas of enterprise virtualization, let us have a look at the various types of virtualization in brief. An enterprise is made up of different components, so it involves all types of virtualization. These include:
- Hardware Virtualization
In this category we have one server with multiple operating systems installed and running at the same time. This category helps us to save:
- Physical space
- Power consumption
- Client Virtualization
In this category, we have the following three models:
- Storage Virtualization
In this category, the logical partition is separated from the physical storage via virtual partitions. This uses the following approaches:
- Presentation Virtualization
This is also called terminal services or remote desktop services (RDS). Using remote desktop services, we get remote Windows desktop on a system that is connected over any network.
This also enables us to scale the environment rapidly.
The Advantages of Enterprise Virtualization Over a Cloud Environment
Virtualization is a part of physical infrastructure, while a cloud environment is a service. Implementing virtualization at an enterprise level is a bit costly at the initial stage, but it saves money in the long run. In a cloud computing environment, subscribers have to pay based on use. So, the subscription model is a continuous investment, while the virtual environment setup is a one-time investment. But again, it all depends on the requirements of the enterprise.
Key Areas of Enterprise Virtualization
Enterprise virtualization has some areas that are referred to as key areas and must be taken into consideration while setting up the virtual environment. These areas are:
- Managing the Virtualization Approach
The decision to implement virtualization should not be made lightly. While going through the benefits of the virtualization approach, it is tempting to opt for a virtual environment, which would add things like cloud, virtual servers, etc. for the application, but we have to be very careful while making the call on whether to implement virtualization. A virtualization strategy should cover every angle of the enterprise, which should include virtualization of the desktop machines, applications, servers and other hardware and software infrastructure.
- Monitoring the Virtualization Environment
Monitoring is an important aspect for any environment. In the case of an enterprise virtual environment, this becomes more vital, as we have to ensure high availability of the applications. We have to use efficient tools for monitoring of the resources, which should ensure that every application gets the resources it requires for its execution at the right time.
- Avoiding Desktop Virtualization
In the long run, desktop virtualization is not a good practice and should be avoided as it has its own issues. I don’t advocate the opinion that desktop virtualization's days are over, but given a choice between desktop virtualization and server virtualization, server-side virtualization is preferred.
- Set Up Disaster Recovery and Plan for Business Continuity
If properly deployed, virtual environments provide the benefit of disaster recovery. In general, the disaster recovery plan is rarely included in the budget; we have to find innovative ideas to ensure that our system is able to handle major events. Business continuity is an aspect without which enterprises can’t survive. While planning for virtualization we must plan and include the means that will ensure high availability of the systems.
- Plan and Design Virtual Data Centers
Virtualization is nothing but the idea of running more virtual workloads on lesser physical systems. There is constant pressure from management to ensure maximum usage of the resources and reduce operating costs as well as the cost of establishment. At the same time, the data center should be highly available and secured as well. As a data center manager, one has to face these challenges on a daily basis.
- Implement Server Consolidation and Containment
The IT infrastructure required to support daily operations grows exponentially as the business grows. As a result, we end up creating an environment that has an array of servers and data storage. This leads to high energy costs and other maintenance costs. In addition to this, the IT departments face the challenge of maintaining these servers and storage areas. The approach of server consolidation and containment helps us to get control over IT infrastructure sprawl and under utilization by reducing hardware and operating costs. This creates a consolidated and flexible IT infrastructure that can adapt to our changing business needs.
- Virtual Lab Automation
In the typical development/test environment, we usually configure systems based on the development needs of the application. The system should be available only when the team is developing and the tester is performing the testing task. In this situation, managing the systems and their configuration is a tedious job. This may lead to proliferation in system configuration or reconfiguration, which will have an impact on the delivery schedule of the application. The virtualization concept helps us to automate the tasks and also reduces the number of systems required. With a virtualized pool of resources, we can have faster and automated provisioning servers. This also helps us to reproduce the production issues in a faster manner.
- Desktop Management and Control
In recent years, desktops have become complicated with an array of hardware components, software components, different drivers and applications. Maintaining these desktops has become painful given the fact that we have to keep updating and upgrading the software components as they arrive. This results in higher costs while managing the environment.
Enterprise Virtualization Requires Careful Consideration
Virtualization is a complex area when enterprise is involved. As we know, enterprises have many different components that can be virtualized, but the decision should be made after careful consideration of the entire system. We should remember that proper enterprise virtualization can be of huge benefit.
This content is brought to you by our partner, Turbonomic.
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