Why do organizations adopt virtualization technology?

Why do organizations adopt virtualization technology?

Summary: Although a few goals stand out because they are cited again and again by organizational decision-makers, there are as many hopes and dreams for virtualization adoption as there are organizations.One group, those who seek out access virtualization solutions, want to offer staff members, partners and customers ways to get to applications and data from any device over just about any network from just about anywhere.

TOPICS: Virtualization

Although a few goals stand out because they are cited again and again by organizational decision-makers, there are as many hopes and dreams for virtualization adoption as there are organizations.

One group, those who seek out access virtualization solutions, want to offer staff members, partners and customers ways to get to applications and data from any device over just about any network from just about anywhere. Some would tack on their desire to reduce the cost and complexity of desktop or laptop systems. Often these folks remember the days of putting a dumb terminal on someone's desk and having that person use the device for more than a decade without having to upgrade the device, its software or even make configuration changes.

Another group, those who seek out application virtualization solutions, are often wanting to obtain the agility, reliability and availability that comes from being able to treat all of their industry standard systems as if they were a large pool of resources that could be allocated and orchestrated in real time so the organization could meet its service level objectives. Some would also wish that applications wouldn't have to be installed on staff, partner or customer systems until needed and then would quietly disappear after they were no longer needed so that they could be reused somewhere else.

Still another group, those who seek out processing virtualization solutions, want to use their physical systems as if they were merely "processing modules." That is, they want the ability to link them together for scalability or performance reasons or load one of them up with many tasks to keep it fully utilized and happy. Some would like the additional capability of mixing and matching operating environments so that their applications could be hosted on whatever physical machine best fit its requirements at the moment and moved somewhere else later without causing the appearance of a failure or slowdown.

There are a few other overarching goals but, I'll look into them later.

If your organization is using virtualization technology, what goals is it trying to achieve?

Topic: Virtualization


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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  • To borrow a phrase from Ballmer...

    Developers, developers, developers, developers... When I'm onsite at a customer location in Germany and someone from Michigan calls with a software problem, I can fire up three virtual images on my laptop that are exact replicas of their software environment...application server, database server and client workstation. From there I can typically reproduce the sequence of events that caused the problem and figure out how to fix it. Virtualization has been the biggest timesaver since the IDE for developers. It has been the "killer app" for software development for quite some time now.
  • I don't get fewer points of failure

    What I don't get about virtualization is the fact that you're concentrating all essential, mission critical services on a single point of hardware failure. I don't see the attraction of this, unless you can afford an IBM mainframe or a huge amount of redundancy.
    • Fewer Points of Failure

      You could use a server with redudant power and redundant disks. And you could use software such as VMWare's Vmotion or PlateSpin or maybe even Virtual Iron. I hear Vmotion can failure over your virtual server to another virtual server host in the event of a disaster.
    • RE: I don't get fewer points of failure

      What you don't get is that you've GOT to have more than one server running the virtualization software. So if a 'virtual machine' dies, you can start it up almost immediately on the backup server. And even if you have 10 virtual servers (virtual machines), you still only need two physical servers.

    • Virtual machine software is only one form of virtualization

      Virtualization is not directly equal to virtual machine software. People select different forms of virtualization depending upon the goals they're trying to accomplish. If I were trying to create a highly available system, virtual machine software, such as VMware or Xen won't be enough to do the job. Some form of orchestration software, such as that offered by Cassatt or Scalent systems would be necessary.

      Furthermore, using some form of clustering software, such as that offered by SteelEye or VERITAS would be a better choice.

      Dan K
  • living with MS

    While I've heard all the arguments for converting to unix, mac, etc, that's just not an option for our company. And MS clearly does not have a handle on security or even stability. So we see virtualization as a way to tame the beast...to encapsulate a windows server in such a way as to be able to image it, move it about, and when the damn thing breaks, startup the last copy we made. So that's really it....virtualization for us is simply a way of taming the beast.

  • vmotion and failover

    Yes, VMWare can failover a VMguest to another VM host in the event of a disaster, but it does take a couple minutes. I'm not shooting it down, because that's pretty great - I just want you to know. This is through the features called HA and you use Virtual Center console to configure all of your HA arrangements.

    The other system that automatically transfers guest systems between hosts without interruption is called DRS. This automatically gives your physical server fleet the ability to juggle these independent VMs, based on the processor or memory load. They move around to find the best distribution of demand over available resources, all without even asking. This is pretty awesome as well.

    But that's the basics of VMotion / HA & DRS using the new VMWare ESX enterprise server platform.


  • Management of virtual machines is much simpler...

    There are tasks that used to be "evening work" that used to proceed after ordering parts, hopefully the right parts. Ever order memory and not realize you needed a matched pair, or that you are out of slots and have to remove some ? Or maybe the cpq replacement raid drive now holds another brand of drive, just a fraction of a gig smaller? I know you're supposed to always know this, or you could run the compaq survey tool. But even then it happens. So your scheduled downtime becomes scheduled research.

    You don't even have to be onsight to add a nic, memory, disks, what else, oh yeah a processor to a VM. You can remote to the host and do all of this. You can build a new server, copy one you have, move them from host to host. You have less "boxes" to manage, and if your'e smart, they cannot hold another part, so no HW upgrade is even possible. So if you need more capacity, you add another maxxed out box that you never touch again except for failure. It has multiple nics, connected every possible way you may need.

    I rarely go in that room anymore. Those late nights sitting in the cold room, interrupting the memory check just to make it go a little quicker are over.
  • What we get out of it...

    A couple of quick points on what my organization gets out of server & storage virtualization:
    - Better resource utilization
    - Consolidation of systems and reduction in total number of devices
    - Simplified management
    - A better HA strategy
    - Reduced costs

    What our virutalization consists of:
    - NetApp storage
    - Dell PE2950 servers running VMWare

    We have been running the majority of our production systems this way for almost a year and it has been fabulous! We will be investing more $ into this strategy!
  • An Average man's need

    I have a large body of Windows based heritage software - so when I move over to Linux, I will have to either dual boot UGH or virtualize. The Virtualiztion needs to run under Debian Linux (eg, umbuntu) and be able in the simplest way to create the virtualizion files from partitions which contain both the OS nd the operating software. A simple system of that kind on a single user basis would, I belive, have a larger market than imaginable now (and maybe a threat from a MS hit-man :) )
    • so download and installl

      VMware Server. I'm running the notoriously unstable Windows 98SE on a VMware guest over Debian Etch right now... 98SE crashes every month or two. I'm happy. I can work on files using either Windows or Linux apps, using whatever works best.

      Also look at virtualbox... an interesting and increasingly popular alternative.