Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why Virtualize?

Virtualization is an increasingly popular trend in data centers around the world and is gathering momentum among sys admins and CIOs alike. From the unindoctrinated, I often here the question "Why Virtualize?" and have been wanting to address this in a post for quite some time. While doing research for it though, I came across the next best thing (or maybe next better thing), a blog post by Arthur Cole of ITBusinessEdge that pretty much summed up my thoughts:

"“Why virtualize?” is actually two-faceted. On one hand it’s important to determine why data centers are going virtual, and on the other we should try to figure out why they should"

The first question is relatively easy to answer. Most people are virtualizing to save money. Storage Expo surveyed more than 300 companies recently on their virtualization objectives and found that 62 percent cited server consolidation as their primary goal"

"As for why should you virtualize, that’s a more complicated question. While consolidation is a worthy goal, it only scratches the surface of potential benefits the technology can deliver."

"What we’re actually talking about here is a complete transformation of the data center akin to the introduction of minicomputers or the development of open systems, according to storage consultant Stephen Foskett"

To be fair there are drawbacks to virtualization, namely VM sprawl. But this can be managed with intelligent VM life cycle policies and a shift in applications and operating systems towards virtual appliances and JeOS (such as Windows Server 2008 Server Core) - Check out this interesting essay Rethinking Application Delivery in the Age of Complexity from the Cutter Consortium and rPath.

Money is a great side effect, but the real power is that virtual machines are just software and are decoupled from the consolidated, highly available hardware (I hope this sparks everyone's imagination). This is why virtualization has such powerful potential to transform the industry and allow for an ever increasingly agile and simple infrastructure and application life cycle.

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