Server virtualization: Doing more with less

Although server virtualization technologies are still maturing, early customers see real benefits

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Next Financial has made advanced business continuity affordable by replicating 11 physical servers at its primary site to three physical servers with 11 virtual machines at a collocation facility. Leftover processing power is used as a primary Web server and application server farm for sales force field applications. “It would have been very expensive to have a bunch of duplicate servers sitting there doing nothing most of the time,” Carlo says.

Arvato Mobile uses Virtuozzo to isolate multiple development environments on its servers, to prevent any one project from accidentally overwriting the files of the others. “We can also create a quick virtual backup so that if something goes wrong, it’s easy to roll back,” Arvato’s Loesche says.

And NewEnergy uses Solaris Containers to isolate and run hundreds of simultaneous Monte Carlo simulations across its Sun N1 Grid of Sun Fire X4100s with minimal need for software changes.

There’s little doubt that server virtualization is poised for a promising future in the datacenter. The technology works, the benefits are real, and the savings in server hardware and provisioning costs can be dramatic. For server virtualization to really take off, however, migration and management tools will have to mature. In particular, remote management needs to be improved, and virtualization standards need to be developed that will allow different virtual platforms to be managed together across the network. VMware has been working with AMD, Intel, and other hardware and software vendors to eventually deliver open standards, but the effort will no doubt take time. Nonetheless, for targeted implementations aimed at solving specific business or IT issues, server virtualization makes a lot of sense today.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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