Before Virtualisation, server hardware was designed to run a single operating system running multiple applications. In practice, running multiple applications on a server meant that any conflicts between software or possibly from hardware drivers led to instability and potential downtime.
Virtualisation allows for multiple operating systems on a single server or hardware platform with each operating system isolated by the virtualisation software – thus avoiding conflicts and having the potential to reduce system and operating costs.
Today, virtualisation is the cornerstone of Cloud Computing – allowing for millions of servers to be established across a range of hardware systems, and utilising a range of operating system software. Within a web hosting environment, virtualisation technology has driven down the cost of hosting whilst reducing the reliance on dedicated hardware platforms to run websites and applications.
Consolidation of systems and hardware onto a virtualised platform can typically reduce costs by up to 50-70% whilst improving system availability and delivering a highly fault tolerant IT system. Virtualisation technologies today encompass every aspect of computing from virtualised desktops, through to firewalls and entire network systems, allowing for greater flexibility throughout your IT Service delivery.
There are some compelling advantages for any organisation, who adopt a Virtualisation model of accessing and running operating system software and applications. In terms of efficiency and system uptime Virtualisation delivers considerable benefits.
- Multiple operating systems
A single hardware platform is capable of running multiple operating systems such as Windows or Linux providing a greater choice of applications and the ability to leverage open source software.
- Reduction of expenditure / costs
Traditionally a hardware platform runs a single operating system. By adopting a virtualisation model, operating costs such as power and data centre space and the capital expense of purchasing less hardware for multiple applications – delivers significant savings.
- Software stability
Running a single instance of a software application on a system negates the issues that arise with software conflicts, and of shared resources slowing system response times.
- Hardware compatibility
Do you have a mixed environment of systems? Do you run Apple computers or perhaps Linux distributions on your desktop? Virtualisation allows for every desktop to have a standard operating system and software-set, regardless of the underlying computing hardware.
- Enhanced Disaster Recovery
Within a virtualised environment, virtual machines are instantly recoverable and are able to be configured to be highly fault tolerant.
- Remote access
If your organisation has a number of remote workers or field-based staff, virtualisation of your desktop systems (VDI) allow for easy remote access and easy restoration of virtual machines on end-users home computers – without the inherent risks of introducing viruses onto central systems from the end-users terminal.
- Reduction in Datacentre costs
Datacentre sprawl is a term used to describe the build up of hardware over a period of time. Typically a non virtualised datacentre will benefit from a 30% reduction in hardware and power costs by consolidating systems.
- Pre-virtualisation reporting
There are a number of applications available today that provide detailed reporting on the efficiencies gained by switching to a virtualisation model. These tools report on various aspects such as repurposing existing hardware through to consolidation of software systems.
- Using open source virtualisation products
There are a number of open source virtualisation systems available today that allow your organisation to test and deploy virtual servers and desktops without software costs. VMware and other vendors provide free tools to convert existing systems into virtualised images at the touch of a button. Leverage these tools to discover and plan your virtualisation journey.
- Create a private cloud
Using virtualisation technologies you are able to bring all your hardware into a single management pool across geographies and datacentres. This provides (depending on number of machines deployed) a layer of redundancy which is abstract from the physical machines. Therefore all machines deployed within the cloud become part of a larger high performance computing infrastructure.
- Patching and system updates
Creating a clone of your virtualised server enables your IT team to deploy and test system upgrades and patches without the need to take systems offline.
As with all new technologies, there are things to keep in mind and take into consideration. Here are a couple of the main things to consider when looking at deploying a virtualised infrastructure.
- Hardware compatibility
Not all hardware systems or processors can be virtualised always run a report using a variety of free tools to check target system compatibility and benchmark efficiency gains.
- Project planning
When deploying a virtualised infrastructure it is always advised to adhere to a strict project plan with targets created for critical systems. If in doubt always use a qualified consultant.
- Choosing your virtualisation platform
From open source through to large scale vendors such as Microsoft and VMware there are a number of virtualisation products and management platforms available. When selecting a provider found your decision on cost, needs and the ease of the management tools provided.
- Use a consultant
Consultants provide tremendous value in terms of input and strategy. When selecting a consultant always ask for previous referees who have deployed the same or similar virtualisation technologies as you’re considering.
- Load test
Load testing simulates network and user activity allowing for a predictable path for system upgrades on virtualised machines. By completing a load test you will be able to ensure that virtualised systems match your internal user requirements or to construct a management budget for the addition of hardware.
- Scope of support
When deploying a virtualised system always check the scope of support offered by a commercial vendor or the system integrator advising or implementing the system for you. It is imperative to establish the scope of the support including response times and demarcation of support services.
At Compare the Cloud, we’re here to help you get started and to help you identify suitable virtualisation vendors and IT providers to evaluate and work with. Take a few minutes to tell us about your company in our Cloud Comparison Tool, and we’ll present you with some informed options – and help you take full advantage of what a virtualised solution offers.