I am a passionate advocate of operating system virtualization, especially in the server room. OS virtualization is probably the most important thing to happen to the server room since Ethernet (in combination with TCP/IP). How so? Ethernet changed everything people understood about computers at the time. It made computers more connected and began to end the chapter of standalone human driven computers.
OS virtualization has begun to do the same thing. Now you don’t need as many physical computers to do the same amount of work. Underutilized computers can now be pushed to their limits by maximizing processing power, centralizing storage, and offloading specific functions off of the core system. I truly believe that there is no greater game changer to computing than OS virtualization.
Benefits of virtualization (mostly based on VMware, and not limited to them):
- Fewer physical computers
- Less underutilized equipment
- Less equipment (nics, processors, memory [in most cases], HBA’s, etc.)
- More OS’s per machine (VMware runs Windows, Linux, Unix, Solaris, Netware. Run Windows on a Mac, etc.)
- Centralized Storage (this was possible before, but virtualization encourages and makes it cost effective.)
- Improved redundancy, availability, reliability
- Ability to dump “legacy” equipment or migrate that app that no one could rebuild.
- Run a VM across the HW of your choice
- No more HW upgrade headaches (just add compatible machines as needed and hot migrate everything)
- Shared processing, networking, memory. (That means that you only need 2-3 nics for 10 VM’s instead of 10-15 nic’s for 10 physical machines.)
- Add resources on demand (Need more processing, memory, nic? Just increase the priority and/or resource share for your VM).
- More environmentally friendly
OK, I think you get the gist. OS virtualization and server consolidation specifically has many benefits and is the #1 thing you can do right now to improve your computing environment. Please share your thoughts and feel free to lean on me for advice on your virtualization project.