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Don't Let Virtualization Performance Become a Complex Issue
Despite it having been around for several years, virtualization is in many ways still an emerging technology. Hence, there are still elements of virtualization that IT personnel as well as software and hardware manufacturers are still grappling with. These include backup, which is of course vital in any computing scenario. The list also includes security handlings such as antivirus and firewalls, which are also crucial to address. Configuration of virtual user desktops is also undergoing continuing development and change.

Interestingly, another factor in virtualization viewed as complex seems to be performance. Because of its multileveled approach, a great deal of resource coordination and optimization is required for virtual environments to perform well. With the right solution, however, virtual performance need not be complex at all.

Central to virtual machine performance are issues relating to I/O reads and writes. These can be problematic in a strictly physical (attached disk storage) environment as well -- but within a virtual environment, because an I/O must pass through several layers (minimally host and guest layers), I/O read and write issues become more magnified. These issues stem from the fact that, unless specifically handled to do otherwise, a multitude of extra I/O operations are required for reading and writing files.

These added and unnecessary I/O operations then lead to I/O bottlenecks. Such bottlenecks result in slow virtual machine speed and a host of other problems including slow or hung backups and hardware life decreased by 50 percent or more. Another result can be the inability to launch further virtual machines.

Yet another crippling symptom of unmanaged I/O operations is that of slow virtual migration. P2V (physical to virtual machine migration) is a basic and necessary function within virtual environments, and can be considerably slowed down causing users and processes to wait for the use of the virtual machine.

Virtual disk "bloat" is a condition that also occurs in the presence of excessive I/Os, and is a condition of wasted virtual disk space.

The only true solution to these performance issues is a comprehensive virtual platform disk optimizer. Such a solution radically and automatically decreases the number of I/Os required to read and write files. Also addressed is the coordination of shared I/O resources. Virtual disk "bloat" is also addressed.

The primary benefits from virtual machines are savings in hardware and the computer system footprint, ease of use in implementation of servers and desktops, and performance. While some of these are still catching up, the issue of performance need not be complex at all.

Published Thursday, August 25, 2011 7:16 PM by David Marshall
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