VirtualizationTo reach their cost reduction, consolidation, and efficiency goals, information technology (IT) companies must maximize the utilization of the assets that they have available. Virtualization (through software) allows IT administrators to carve up physical resources such as servers and storage into logical units that can be provisioned independently. These logical entities allow administrators to dynamically deploy new services using excess infrastructure that would have previously gone to waste. Virtualization not only reduces expenses but enables companies to be much more agile and flexible while responding to the requests of their customers. Because the physical resources are already in place provisioning new capabilities can be as simple as clicking a few buttons.

Server Virtualization

The largest benefit to server virtualization is the ability to run multiple virtual servers on a single physical server. This allows system administrators to make the most efficient use of the available CPU, memory and disk resources. The result is a consolidated and optimized environment that requires less hardware. This in turn results in consuming less datacenter floor space and demanding less cooling and power. Other distinct advantages that come with server virtualization include increased server availability and business continuity capabilities. Since the logical server is not attached to the physical hardware, in the event of device failure, the server can run on other physical systems in the operating environment. The same technology can be utilized to build redundancy between geographically dispersed sites to ensure continuity of operations in case of a true disaster or site failure. Often the speed of provisioning is the most appreciated benefit of virtualized server environments. With the assumption that the capacity is available, new virtual servers can be brought online in a matter of minutes.

Storage Virtualization

The requirement for disk storage capacity in enterprise environments continues to grow at a rapid pace. As IT organizations procure additional capacity they are faced with many difficult decisions such as:

Should they stick with the same vendor that they already have in their environment?
Should they maintain the same protocols and interface technology?
What are the performance requirements of the new storage?
How much capacity must be reserved for growth?
How will they migrate from an old storage system to the new one?

Storage virtualization helps to address these challenges. Storage virtualization systems collect the storage resources of a business into a centralized pool and then present logical representations of those resources to the servers that demand them. This abstraction layer between the servers and physical storage devices allows storage administrators to move data, add capacity and replace hardware transparent to the servers accessing the data. Another benefit of storage virtualization is that data replication can occur regardless of the storage technology, vendor or protocol. This replication can be used to ensure availability metrics are met and to support the organization’s continuity of operations (COOP) initiatives. Like server virtualization, the levels of automation that can be achieved with storage virtualization enable fast provisioning of resources in support of new requirements.