One of the technology concepts we have the most trouble explaining is server virtualization. It is contrary to how most people envision technology works and as a result we spend more time explaining it.
Discussing server virtualization is well worth the effort because from an IT point of view, there are HUGE opportunities to reduce costs and improve performance of your technology assets.
What is Server Virtualization?
There are many types of virtualization and a variety of definitions. The easiest way I find to explain virtualization is it is a type of installation when you have server operating systems (such as Microsoft Server 2012) not tied to a physical server.
The old way of computing was you would install one operating system on one physical server. This is like us all driving our own cars to work.
With virtualization, you can install multiple server operating systems on one physical server or spread across multiple physical servers. It is like everyone taking a bus or buses to work instead of their own cars.
You can also think of it in terms of your computer. Most PCs just have one operating system installed on them (likely Windows 7). Imagine if you had multiple people using one computer running multiple installations of Windows 7.
The Basics of Virtualization
The way you achieve this in an IT environment is you install virtualization software onto your server hardware before installing any operating systems. The best time to do this is when you buy a new server.
There are two software options for virtualization that you will hear about. The most popular is VMWare and is what we use across our client base. Microsoft also has virtualization software called Hyper-V.
There are a few differences between the two, but generally it comes down to the preference of the people who are managing your IT environment and what they are trained on.
The Big Opportunities
So here is the opportunity you have with server virtualization. If you walk into your server room at the office and see multiple “pizza boxes”, you may have more servers than you need.
If this is the case, the next time you replace your servers, you can employ virtualization and buy less hardware.
The other two benefits are performance and uptime. None of us likes it when things are running slow or when our systems go down. Server virtualization effectively addresses both of these.
When you are using virtual servers, you can set them up to pool resources and provide computing power where it is needed in a very efficient way. The IT world is rife with vastly under-utilized servers. Virtualization is one way to address that.
Here’s the opportunity on the uptime front. If you have multiple physical servers (called Hosts), you can run several virtual servers across them. When you do this, hardware failure will not stop your servers from running – the virtual servers will just run on the hardware that is still functioning. (Also see Five Ways to Get Proactive About Your IT Services.)
Overall, virtualization is a bit of a complex IT approach to explain but it’s worth you having a basic understanding of it. To explore if it’s something that could work effectively for your company, click the button below to request a network audit.
We will review your setup and see how virtualization can be employed at your organization to save money and improve the performance of your IT systems.