Shared-usage of computing resources, better known as virtualization, has been a technology staple for a long time. Back in the 1960’s, IBM developed a system to time-share their mainframe computing power to their customers. IBM posited that their mainframe resources could see more efficient use if they could spread those resources to many different clients at the same time. From those beginnings at IBM, virtualization has grown, but the basic principles remain the same. Virtualization is simply the process of creating a software version of what was once a physical piece of hardware. Virtualization encompasses servers, storage, networks, and even PCs. The rationale for virtualization also remains the same in that it gives the benefits of reducing capital costs, minimizes downtime, increases efficiency, provisions faster, and simplifies management of resources.
Let us look a little deeper into each one of those reasons.
- The ability to virtualize many machines on one physical server reduces capital costs. You can buy less hardware while still maintaining desired performance levels.
- Virtual resources are easily moved from one hardware system to another – about as simple as dragging and dropping a file. If a hardware issue arises, the virtual system can be quickly moved to another piece of hardware. This movement can also be automated to eliminate downtime.
- Efficiencies are found at both the hardware and human resource level. Virtualization allows for hardware to be utilized to its true potential. Your IT staff can also manage larger pools of hardware and software with virtualization management tools available from the industry leaders.
- As alluded to earlier, virtual resources can be moved around about as simply as dragging and dropping a file on your computer. As such, it is just about that easy to copy that virtual resource. This ability to copy makes provisioning more virtual resources quick and easy.
- All of the industry leaders of virtualization (i.e. VMWare, Citrix, and Microsoft) provide tools to IT staff to monitor and maintain their virtual environments. Intelligence is also built into these systems to alert and/or mitigate issues as they arise.
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