Given all of the activity in consolidating and streamlining government datacenters, this post on IBM's Mainframe Blog provides excellent context for thinking about virtualization and datacenters. John Patrick writes:
People have talked about the death of the mainframe for years but after seeing the Z9, you can be sure they are not going away for a very long time. In addition to the Z9, IBM announced an extension of it's incredibly powerful virtualization engine software. The combination of the new mainframe and the new software will make it possible to turn a real datacenter into a virtual datacenter. This is a really big deal. CEO's, CIO's, and CFO's are making plans to consolidate their datacenters using the new combo because virtual datacenters require fewer people, offer more reliability, and are much less costly to operate.
After describing the complexity of managing multiple datacenters, thousands of servers, and bazillions of storage devices, Patrick describes the virtual datacenter:
Now imagine a virtual datacenter. When you peer through the window you see three boxes -- one is a mainframe server, another is labeled "storage", and the third says "network". There is a person at a large video console who is looking at what appears to be a dashboard. It shows a pictorial diagram of all the applications that are running in the datacenter on the mainframe -- payroll, purchase orders, invoicing, web purchases, inventory management, training video streaming to new employees, etc. When one application area needs more server, storage, or network capacity the virtual datacenter automatically re-allocates capacity from another application area that currently has excess capacity. The virtual datacenter keeps resources balanced, and when a component fails, the virtual datacenter automatically allocates a spare or underutilized component to take over.