The concept of Virtualization has become more widely known over the last 5 years, however it has been around since the 1960’s. During the 60’s it was used in mainframe computers as a way of dividing system resources provided by mainframes between different applications. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s Virtualization really started to take a foothold in the Corporate Enterprise market, and today the applications of this technology have made it a must-have for all businesses.
There are many types of Virtualization solutions businesses have adopted, such as Server Virtualization, Desktop Virtualization, Storage Virtualization and Network Virtualization just to name a few. Here are some of the advantages and implications for each one:
Server virtualization unlocks today’s traditional one-to-one architecture of x86 servers by abstracting the operating system and applications from the physical hardware, enabling a more cost-efficient, agile and simplified server environment. Using server virtualization, multiple operating systems can run on a single physical server as virtual machines, each with access to the underlying server’s computing resources. Most servers operate less than 15 percent of capacity; not only is this highly inefficient, it also introduces server sprawl and complexity. Server virtualization addresses these inefficiencies.
This is the concept of separating the logical desktop from the physical machine. One form of desktop virtualization, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), can be thought of as a more advanced form of hardware virtualization. Rather than interacting with a host computer directly via a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, the user interacts with the host computer using another desktop computer or a mobile device by means of a network connection, such as a LAN, Wireless LAN or even the Internet. In addition, the host computer in this scenario becomes a server computer capable of hosting multiple virtual machines at the same time for multiple users. Selected client environments move workloads from PCs and other devices to data center servers, creating well-managed virtual clients, with applications and client operating environments hosted on servers and storage in the data center. For users, this means they can access their desktop from any location, without being tied to a single client device. Since the resources are centralized, users moving between work locations can still access the same client environment with their applications and data. For IT administrators, this means a more centralized, efficient client environment that is easier to maintain and able to more quickly respond to the changing needs of the user and business.
Network virtualization is the complete reproduction of a physical network in software. Virtual networks offer the same features and guarantees of a physical network, yet they deliver the operational benefits and hardware independence of virtualization—rapid provisioning, nondisruptive deployment, automated maintenance, and support for both legacy and new applications. Network virtualization presents logical networking devices and services—logical ports, switches, routers, firewalls, load balancers, VPNs and more—to connected workloads. Applications run on the virtual network exactly the same as if on a physical network.
I am seeing a lot of Federal Government agencies starting to adopt this technology also, due in big part to the reasons listed above. Virtual Machines (VMs) are easier to maintain, easier to migrate and easier to back up than a physical server. They run more efficiently and reduce data sprawl, therefore saving agencies time and money. With VMs, IT resources are freed up to find new innovative ways to increase the efficiencies and profitability. The implications of increasing efficiencies in a current environment, the flexibility that it gives environments, the scalability without sacrificing security and reliability are “virtually” limitless.
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