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Virtualization: At What Price?

Quoting from Processor.com

In any data center, there’s a tightrope walk of complexity and cost. Each new system that addresses a problem, such as application performance or security, also introduces a new challenge in implementing the solution, managing it, and training administration staff about the new technology, no matter how compelling it is.

Virtualization, which is a server consolidation technology that helps data centers manage more servers without the hardware investment, is one shining example of how streamlining can introduce new management chores. Servers are “virtualized” in the data center in the same way that WinXP can run in a virtualized mode on a desktop PC, providing access to systems through one portal. The benefits are clear: fewer physical servers to manage and better overall performance.

The Aim Of Virtualization

In the case of virtualization, the “anything new breeds complexity” issue is even more ironic. The whole point of virtualization is to help data centers understand their server architecture, manage it according to ever-more-complex regulations, increase server performance, and hopefully reduce the burden on already overworked IT staff.

“The trend toward server consolidation is an attempt on the part of IT departments to try to reduce the number of servers to reduce some of the complexity,” says Susan Davis, a vice president of strategy at Egenera. “However, as virtual machine technology becomes more widely used, the complexity problem could actually get worse. As an example, if today a company is managing 100 servers, in the future they may need to manage 1,000 virtual machinesthus adding complexity.”

Companies such as Egenera, VMware, CiRBA, and Opsware all offer virtualization solutions for small to medium-sized enterprises yet understand the dilemma of new data center consolidation technology creating unforeseen IT burdens.

“Virtualization is essentially a trade-off,” says Eric Vishria, a vice president at Opsware. “It reduces the hardware and OS complexity because it gives you a standard layer for the virtual machines, yet there is a complex interrelationship between the host machines and virtual machines at the lower-level software layer.”

Read the rest of the article, here.

 

Published Friday, June 02, 2006 10:15 AM by David Marshall
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