Why virtualize? There is more to the story.

Why virtualize? There is more to the story.

Summary: Virtualization is much, much more than using virtual machine software to create virtual clients or servers. Organizations need to explore all types of virtualization to get a complete picture of the potential benefits.

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I read my colleague Ken Hess' post "The Answer to the Why Virtualize Question" and felt the need to weigh in. While the points he makes are both useful and valid, I don't think that he is making the whole picture visible. First of all, Virtualization is far more than merely using virtual machine software. Virtual machine software is just one of the five things found in the virtual processing layer of the Kusnetzky Group model of virtualization technology (see Sorting out the different layers of virtualization for more information).

Virtualization is something that has been around for quite a long time. It has been a staple of the mainframe world for well over 30 years. It has been part of the midrange systems world for over 20 years. It has been emerging in the world of industry standard systems for over a decade. Although virtualization technology touches every part of a computing solution today, many vendors, and the good Mr. Hess, seem to focus on one part of one layer of virtualization technology. Why, do you suppose, is that? My guess is the drive for simplicity.

Virtual machine software is a powerful tool, if used correctly.  Its use can also create a number of intractable problems as well. There are times this software is deployed when it would have been far more efficient to deploy operating system virtualization and partitioning software. I'm sure that the folks at Parallels would love to present benchmarks showing the benefits of that approach to anyone who will make the time to listen.

Virtual machine migration software combined with orchestration and automation software are often used rather than technology that may be more efficient, clustering software.  If the organization's goal was high availability, it may have been better to consider software, such as Stratus' Avance, or a fault tolerant server, such as those offered by Stratus.

What I find the most interesting is that some organizations start deploying virtual servers without also planning out a complete environment that includes virtual access to those servers, virtual networking for those servers, virtual storage for those servers and a management environment that makes it easily possible to see what's really happening. Don't forget security software that can deal with such a complex environment.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Emerging Tech, Hardware, Servers, Software, Virtualization

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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7 comments
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  • The beauty of Virtualization

    Is that the state of the art has put it in reach of the average Joe User.

    In fact, when you combine Ubuntu Linux 64-bit architecture and rely on the built-in kvm present in every kernel and use the btrfs filesystem, you no longer need to manage partitions--each subvolume is its own filesystem effectively.

    When configured with snapshot capability and raid this is a powerful combination for developers (like myself) and regular users who can avail themselves to managing their vms with Virt-Manager.

    All the above brought to you by Linux and FREE.

    Follow RedHat's RHEV technology and see why this market has huge potential growth with kvm.

    Can't go wrong Folks.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Why virtualize? There is more to the story.

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate Dietrich, while virtual machine technology offers many benefits, it is not always the right answer to every question. I'm trying to broaden the discussion to include more answers to more questions.

      Dan K
      dkusnetzky
    • RE: Why virtualize? There is more to the story.

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate

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      • RE: Why virtualize? There is more to the story.

        Wow! this part of the article is really very informative "Virtual machine migration software combined with orchestration and automation software are often used rather than technology that may be more efficient, clustering software. If the organization???s goal was high availability, it may have been better to consider software, such as Stratus??? Avance, or a fault tolerant server, such as those offered by Stratus." more power..

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  • RE: Why virtualize? There is more to the story.

    I'm still looking for the reason why virtualize at all? I think some forget that 1 server by itself running on a dedicated box can run multiple things. And as far as virtualized desktops, unless you are running an entirely different OS, why run a virtualized one at all (except lets say for example a machine running Windows 7 64bit can't run an app built for XP).
    pefdude
  • if you're going to get all meta about it

    Really the reason for virtualization (besides testing) is a brute force bandaid: when compatibility is not an option, stick the kitchen sink into a self contained universe. It's solipsism.

    To get past this quickly approaching Golden Age of Bandaids, we need to work together on something that there is currently no incentive to do... which is to agree on a central standard OS core that all of our branded environments run on as libraries.

    If that could be done then there would be no need for virtualization in normal environments. There would be no host/guest arrangement. Software calling on different libraries would all run on equal footing, all equally 'native'. Libraries could still be free or pay for, open source and proprietary?they just wouldn't be fighting over who wants to be center of the universe.
    Htalk
  • RE: Why virtualize? There is more to the story.

    Agree with Hobyx.
    WHY VIRTUALIZE ?
    Virtualization fixes a symptom, it does NOT address the problem.

    FIX THE OS Windows/Linux/whatever to allow many many apps to run side by side on a single box. In a manner that no app can affect another or the OS, no app can take over the box (real time sharing), etc.

    Maybe the youngsters of today SHOULD look at the ancient technology called mainframes aka z/OS it's done it for decades.

    I'm not saying we should go back to them, but today's technologies is not really an improvement just different.

    I keep asking the question, but no one can answer it.

    WHY VIRTUALIZE ?
    knudson