Why choose a virtual environment?

Why choose a virtual environment?

Summary: Why do organizations choose to go to the time and trouble to adopt some form of virtualization technology? Those thinking that virtualization only refers to the use of virtual machine software to allow a single system to support multiple, encapsulated workloads would mention the factors of time and cost (see Cost and energy benefits driving virtualization).

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Why do organizations choose to go to the time and trouble to adopt some form of virtualization technology? Those thinking that virtualization only refers to the use of virtual machine software to allow a single system to support multiple, encapsulated workloads would mention the factors of time and cost (see Cost and energy benefits driving virtualization). Others taking a broader view would mention one or more of the following factors as well.

  • Availability or reliability — the financial community would mention the imperative that their systems never be seen to fail. Application availability and reliability would be the first factor they'd mention causing them to deploy fault tolerant hardware systems, clustering or high availability monitors or some workload management software. This community is willing to pay a great deal of money to add as many "9s" as they can on the end of their uptime percentage.
  • Consolidation — increasing system utilization and the resulting cost reduction are of interest to others. They're hoping that the use of partitioned operating systems or virtual machine software will allow the deployment of more applications on a single piece of hardware. They know that this approach may not result in improved performance or scalability. It will, on the other hand, reduce the number of systems that are needed, reduce the power consumption of their data center, and may, if the proper management tools are also deployed, reduce their administrative and operational costs.
  • Performance — those in the high performance computing community would mention the main factor causing them to deploy virtual processing software (read grid computing or parallel processing software) is obtaining the highest levels of performance available with today's technology. These people are willing to go to the effort to decompose programs or data so that many computers can work together to reduce the time it takes to complete a task.
  • Scalability — those needing to support a high volume of business transactions would mention a different factor, scalability. Although each transaction needs to execute quickly, their systems must perform a large number of transactions. These people are willing to center their development efforts on a high-performance application framework that may replicate functions on several machines and balance the work across those replicated functions to increase the number of transactions that can be processed in a given period of time.
  • Management — some organizations use management framework or workload management software to optimize their computing environment in ways that their staff could never accomplish. These organizations need the systems to monitor themselves and move applications or data around to meet their service level objectives at a minimal cost.

There are many different layers of virtualization in use today.  Organizations must take a broad view to obtain the greatest benefits.

What were the key factors considered when your organization deployed access virtualization software, processing virtualization software, storage virtualization software, or virtual systems management software?

Topics: Virtualization, Software

About

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • VMs in software development...

    Virtual machines have become the "sliced bread" of software development. I've got about 3 dozen virtual machines currently set up that are tailored to match exactly many of my customer environments. I can run a database server, application server and client machine all from my workstation. I looked at virtualization for a long time as "yeah, it's cool but who cares" until I started leveraging it. Now I can't imagine ever going back to how I used to work. This is the true test of the "killer app"...if you can't imagine living without it, it's a killer app for you. I currently use VMWare for my needs, but have considered looking into Microsoft's VM offerings...especially since they are free from what I've been told. I've still got a lot of money tied up in VMWare licenses, so it's not a high priority for me right now. I can see where virtualization makes sense in a number of areas, but in software development I can say it's the closest thing to a must-have as I can imagine.
    jasonp@...
    • Great for QA and recovery planning...

      I agree! I use virtualization to test my applications with the platforms and applications my clients use. I can have all variety of GNU / Linux, xBSD, Windows and DOS machines to test, thanks to VMWare Workstation and VMWare Server (free).

      Also, when recovering a server or upgrading it, I first create a virtual machine, then try the upgrade or the recovery steps and see how it goes. If everything is ok, I'll go forward with the "real" machine. Some years ago I had no option but to do it in the production machine without testing or (if the data/service was too valuable) to replicate it on a physical machine.

      Oh, yes... snapshots are so cool. Test, crash and burn, then get a clean machine with the clic of the mouse.


      Regards,

      MV
      MV_z