Many IT organizations have already moved to a virtualized server infrastructure, while others are still operating a physical server model either for part, or all of their business application needs. Even today, organizations must ask — why virtualize — and the answer must satisfy the CFO, the CEO, and the end users, just as much as it satisfies the IT support team.
While it may be true that starting a new virtualized infrastructure carries a higher acquisition cost than a single dedicated physical server, that spend can quickly turn into savings as additional virtual servers are added vs. the physical model. A principle reason for this is that most servers running in the physical model are only about 20 percent utilized over the course of their useful lifecycle. According to Cisco, when combined with a physical storage model (where the storage the server utilizes is dedicated to that server), overall utilization drops to around 15 percent, compared to virtual servers leveraging shared storage.
So what is server virtualization and what are the benefits?
A physical server is a dedicated machine running a single instance of an operating system which supports one, two or a small handful of applications or services such as File and Print and Active Directory, or a SQL database, or an enterprise/line of business application such as Epicor. When configured with enough RAM and processor capacity to meet peak usage of that application or service, the physical server model will only utilize 20 percent of that capacity over time.
With server virtualization, that same piece of hardware would run a hypervisor that hosts multiple instances of operating systems, or servers, on top of it. While in the physical server model, that hardware can only host a single application or a small handful of applications; in the virtual model, the same hardware can host many servers, each running multiple applications.
Generally speaking and with thoughtful design, it is reasonable to virtualize 10 virtual servers on a single hardware host. Some organizations may even choose to run more depending on requirements and capabilities.
Tom Gdula, a data center virtualization practice manager at Annese & Associates, Inc., has outlined six benefits of implementing virtualization servers.
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