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Role of virtualization in a data center

Discuss about the Virtualization Technology.

Virtualization is the creation of simulated versions of IT elements such as Operating Systems, storage devices, servers or network resources (Portnoy, 2016). Kumar & Charu (2015) define virtualization as an arrangement of software and hardware configurations that constructs Virtual Machines (VMs) and facilitates the execution of more than one operating systems running on the same physical resources and platform. In addition, virtualization can be referred to the resourceful utilization of the present resources that offers gigantic cost savings in a short amount of time. Virtualization also delivers organizations with fresh models of software deployment which meets user anticipations, offers quick services, self-service provisioning, scalability and load balancing to support important business systems. The illustration below shows a virtual IT infrastructure (Kumar & Charu, 2015).

 

Figure 2: A  Virtual Infrastructure (Source: Metzler, 2011)

According to VMware White Paper (2016), virtualization enables enterprises to handle challenges that include the following

  • Server consolidation - virtualization  removes the need for many servers in an organization that are not used to their full capacity  by using only one server and deploying other required servers  as virtual machines (VMs) which  can therefore execute safely  across shared resources plainly  which thus increases server usage and utilization  to optimized levels. Since many servers including mail servers, webservers, and network servers usually use less than forty percent of their capability, deploying them as virtual machines in only one server saves physical space, consumes less power and reduces on organizational costs.
  • Development and test environment standardization and optimization – virtualization enables the provision of development and testing servers by recycling configured systems, augmenting collaboration between system developers and allows standardizing development environments which increase system compatibility, thereby reducing developer conflicts and errors.
  • Organizational sustainability and continuity - virtualization reduces the expenses and complications of business sustainability by providing the availability of disaster recovery solutions by compressing major systems into single system files that can be simulated and reinstated on other server thereby decreasing downtime and system resources.
  • Enables secure enterprise desktop – virtualization provides user workstations, personal computers  and laptops with secure platforms without conceding their autonomy by offering   security policies in applications surrounding virtual desktop machines.

Virtualization is a major factor to business organizations since it is an enabling technology that allows the creation of an intelligent abstraction layer that hides the difficulty of underlying software or hardware (Kumar & Charu, 2015). Virtualization technologies allows business enterprises to reduce costs on both hardware and software purchases and split computing resources to gives one or more than execution environments (Naeem et al, 2016). Virtualization is a major part of contemporary design for data center (Onisick, 2010). Virtualization technologies are necessary and organizational should implement them because of the following benefits as laid out by Naeem et al (2016).

  • Reduction in infrastructure costs including cooling, power, spacing and cabling, due to less required server hardware which consequently saves money.
  • Centralized management and monitoring tools exist for most virtualization platforms which maximizes uptime
  • Improved hardware utilization since traditional servers only use up to 10% resources. Placing multiple virtual machines on the same physical server achieves high utilization.
  • Availability, reduction in  system administration work  and management benefits

Founded in 1994, Amazon is an American cloud computing  and electronic commerce company. It is the leading web based retailer in the world by total sales and market capitalization having started as an online bookstore (Amazon, 2017). To satisfy it large base of clients and customers, Amazon has implanted virtualization technologies. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud VPC allows for the provision of a rationally secluded segment of their Web Services cloud where a client can introduce web resources in a self-defined virtual network. The customer has complete control and management over the virtual networking setup, comprising of their specific address ranges, gateways, subnet creation, and route table configuration (Amazon, 2017).  

A virtual machine (VM) is the basic component of virtualization and act as a container for operating systems and application software executing on top of the virtualization layer on a server (Portnoy, 2016). VMs offer several benefits for IT infrastructure in a business organization. Major attributes of an efficient virtual machine (VM) include the following

  • Hardware Independence - VMs should have the capability of migrating to any physical server
  • Partitioning-   ability to run more than one operating systems on one physical machine   and provision to divide system resources among virtual machine
  • Safety and Isolation – at the hardware level, VMs should provide security and fault isolation. In addition, with progressive control of the system resources, they should be able to preserve machine performance.
  • Encapsulation – virtual machine files should be saved and hidden from access and contact by other systems. The files also should have the capability of moving from one location to another.
  • Fidelity The environment it creates for the VM is essentially identical to the original (hardware) physical machine.
  • Performance - between the physical equivalent and the VM there should be little or no difference at all.
  • Workload capacity and performance planning – server virtualization greatly increases resource utilization, to ensure efficient running of a VM server, workloads , capacity and performance should be kept in check.
  • Security - security is a very key factor in computer systems. To ensure that servers are working effectively, security has to be set in place to inhibit any possible threats.
  • Operational processes and procedures – ensure that procedures and policies on how to run, monitor and control the VM server are in place.
  • Storage apportionment and management – storage allocation should be estimated so that currently available capacity is not exceeded which can subsequently affect server performance.

Need and importance of virtualization technologies

A virtual appliance is a preconfigured application software that contains virtual machines(VMs) and software solutions that are combined, integrated, controlled and reorganized as a unit (VMware Inc, 2010). A virtual appliance is usually setup ready to run on a hypervisor.  Virtual appliance is created when a software appliance is installed on a virtual machine and packaged into an image. Virtual appliances are usually anticipated to exclude the setting up, configuration and upkeep costs linked with the execution of complicated heaps of software applications (Bhartiya, 2015). A virtual appliance is easy for users to obtain and implement as solutions. Virtual appliances make the development and the dissemination of software applications simpler and reduce the execution time.

A vApp contains several interoperating virtual machines (VMs) and software applications that can be installed and managed as one element.  vApps use standard Open Virtualization Format to compress elements of a given application, alongside operating procedures and service levels agreements associated with them. A vApp gives software developers a typical way of describing procedures and policies that the clouds or datacenters they are using can be consistently interpreted and executed (VMware Inc, 2010). A vApp offers a suitable method of using software applications without the complication of installing the applications yourself (SAS, 2016).

  • When you want to isolate the host operating system especially when testing software applications
  • When you want to save on hardware and software costs of a business organization
  • When a company does not have enough physical space for setting up all the required hardware and software equipment’s
  • When a company want to implement centralized management of all its resources and communication

VMware delivers virtualization  and cloud applications and services (VMware Inc., 2010).  VMware leads in both server and desktop virtualization markets. VMware continues to lead the virtualization market due to inventions, tactical connections and quality products (Hess, 2016).  Desktop software at VMware operates on Linux, macOS AND Microsoft Windows.  Sever Hypervisors run on VMware ESXi and VMware ESX. The two are bare-metal hypervisors operating openly on server hardware without the necessity of needing an extra operating system (OS).

Citrix Systems, Inc. is an American corporation founded by Richardson in the late nineties. Citrix provides desktop, server and application virtualization, cloud computing services and software as a service (SaaS). Citrix started by creating remote access applications including remote servers. The company has other development centers in countries including Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Denmark, India and Germany (Citrix, 2017).

Microsoft has been a leading software provider for many years now. To compete in the server virtualization market, Microsoft developed a non-Linux hypervisor and continues to   offer striking authorization for the hypervisor product together with the operating systems running on it (Microsoft, 2017). The hypervisor continue getting more and more competitive for virtualization after every new release of a new Windows server. The company has also continued to gain clients for their virtualization services including Hyper-V services.

References

Amazon (2017). Amazon Com Inc. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/

Bhartiya, S. (2015). Why, When, and How To Use a Virtual Machine. Retrieved from https://www.linux.com/learn/why-when-and-how-use-virtual-machine

Citrix (2017). What does Citrix do? Retrieved from https://www.citrix.com/about/what-does-citrix-do.html

Hess, K (2016). Top 10 Virtualization Technology Companies for 2016. Retrieved from https://www.serverwatch.com/server-trends/slideshows/top-10-virtualization-technology-companies-for-2016.html

Metzler, D.  (2011). Virtualization: Benefits, Challenges, and Solutions, White Paper. Retrieved fromhttps://www.stotthoare.com.au/sites/default/files/files/1_16100_WhitePaper_VirtualizationBenefits_by_Webtorials.pdf

Microsoft (2017). Microsoft Hypervisor. Retrieved from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/server-virtualization

Naeem, M., Mahar, H., Memon, F. & Rauf, A. (2016). An overview of virtualization & cloud computing. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307905618_AN_OVERVIEW_OF_VIRTUALIZATION_CLOUD_COMPUTING

Portnoy, M.  (2016). Virtualization Essentials. Second Edition. ISBN: 978-1-119-26772-0

Kumar, R., & Charu, S. (2015). An Importance of Using Virtualization Technology in Cloud Computing. Global Journal of Computers & Technology, Vol. 1, No. 2, February 25, 2015, ISSN: 2394-501X. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rakesh_Kumar175/publication/273723426_An_Importance_of_Using_Virtualization_Technology_in_Cloud_Computing/links/5509bd980cf20f127f907ce3.pdf

Onisick, J. (2010). Data center 10: server virtualization. Retrieved from https://www.definethecloud.net/tag/data-center-virtualization/

SAS. (2016). What is a vApp and how does it work? Retrieved from https://support.sas.com/software/products/university-edition/faq/vmapp_whatis.htm

VMware Inc (2010). User’s Guide to Deploying vApps and Virtual Appliances. Retrieved from https://www.vmware.com/support/developer/studio/studio21/va_user.pdf

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