Virtualization Virtues

By: David Branco

Internet services increase very rapidly, with new consumers going online every minute. To account for the influx of traffic generated on this information highway, servers are becoming more active requiring more resources while generating more heat. To protect their investments, companies actively seek more productive methouds to minimize utilized resources and maintain a higher technology life. Recent technological advances are making it possible to combine multiple machines spanning several hardware configurations into a single machine via virtualization. Properly installed and administered virtualization software will save unpredictable amounts of money.

A major concern for all data-center administrators pertains to the operating temperature of their hardware. In the technology world it's a general rule of thumb that for every ten-degrees Celsius, fifty-degrees Fahrenheit, the life-span of a device is cut in half; thus, if you increase your temperature by twenty-degrees Celsius, your estimated time-span is now one-fourth of the previous life. Virtualization, while not eliminating the threat, effectively helps decrease the amount of heat generating by concurrently operating several machines. This outcome is achieved by loading multiple hardware configurations into just one "host" box. The "host" boxes are not limited to the amount of operating systems installed but the amount of concurrently running software is limited to the host's own hardware.

The majority of companies already utilizing the new virtualization technology have stated that they have saved more money in the long run. The ability to run more systems on less hardware not only saves money for the utility bills, but also decreases the amount of money spent on purchasing new hardware and servers to met your data-center's expanding client-base. The ability to add new severs into machines without having to worry about hardware not only saves time with installation but also administration. Virtualization effectively minimizes the amount of work administrators have to monitor and gives them more time to monitor their software issues and apply patches to security threats.

While administrators will get an advantage over this new technology, software engineers are also are at an advantage. Virtualization offers the ability to swiftly develop and debug multiple applications over several different operating systems concurrently without the need for any extra, expensive hardware. The ability to configure and backup newly installed operating systems to restore in-case of serious design flaws in new hardware now takes minutes not hours or even day in some cases.

Several engineering companies offer virtualization products; XenSource and VMWare both offer free versions of their software for the curious-minded. In-addition, both companies offer a free trail-period for their corporate level software; the software you choose will depict the hardware requirements and administration techniques that apply.

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