Server virtualization has been a game-changing technology for IT, providing efficiencies and capabilities that just aren’t possible when constrained within a physical world. If you are still waiting to get into the game, here are 10 great reasons why you should be jumping into the server virtualization game with both feet.
10. Save energy, go green
You don’t have to be an eco-activist to appreciate this benefit. Migrating physical servers over to virtual machines and consolidating them onto far fewer physical servers means lowering monthly power and cooling costs in the data center.
9. Reduce the data center footprint
This one goes hand in hand with the previous benefit. Server consolidation with virtualization means far fewer servers, less networking gear, a smaller number of racks needed – all of which translates into less data center floor space required. Another money saving feature!
8. Test environments
Virtualization allows you to easily build out a self-contained test environment, operating on its own isolated network. Building a test lab would be cost prohibitive with purely physical servers, and in many cases, technologically improbable.
7. Faster server provisioning
Server virtualization enables elastic capacity to provide system provisioning and deployment at a moment’s notice. You can quickly clone a gold image, master template, or existing virtual machine to get a server up and running within minutes. Remember that the next time you have to fill out purchase orders, wait for shipping and receiving, and then rack, stack, and cable a physical machine only to spend additional hours waiting for the operating system and applications to complete their installations. I’ve almost completely forgotten what it’s like to click Next > Next > Next.
6. Reduce hardware vendor lock-in
While not always a bad thing, sometimes being tied down to one particular server vendor or even one particular server model can prove quite frustrating. But because server virtualization abstracts away the underlying hardware and replaces it with virtual hardware, data center owners gain a lot more flexibility when it comes to the server equipment they can choose from. This can also be a handy negotiating tool with the hardware vendors when the time comes to renew or purchase more equipment.
5. Increase uptime
Virtualization technologies keep virtual machines running or give them the ability to quickly recover from unplanned outages. The ability to quickly and easily move a virtual machine from one server to another is perhaps one of the greatest single benefits of virtualization.
4. Improve disaster recovery
Virtualization offers an organization three important components when it comes to building out a disaster recovery solution. The first is its hardware abstraction capability. By removing the dependency on a particular hardware vendor or server model, a disaster recovery site no longer needs to keep identical hardware on hand to match the production environment. Second, by consolidating servers down to fewer physical machines in production, an organization can more easily create an affordable replication site. And third, most enterprise server virtualization platforms have software that can help automate the failover when a disaster does strike. The same software usually provides a way to test a disaster recovery failover as well. Imagine being able to actually test and see your failover plan work in reality, rather than hoping and praying that it will work if and when the time comes.
3. Isolate applications
In the physical world, data centers typically moved to a “one app/one server” model in order to isolate applications. But this caused physical server sprawl, increased costs, and underutilized servers. Server virtualization provides application isolation and removes application compatibility issues by consolidating many of these virtual machines across far fewer physical servers. This also cuts down on server waste by more fully utilizing the physical server resources and by provisioning virtual machines with the exact amount of CPU, memory, and storage resources that it needs.
2. Extend the life of older applications
Let’s be honest – you probably have old legacy applications still running in your environment. These applications probably fit into one or more of these categories: It doesn’t run on a modern operating system, it may not run on newer hardware, your IT team is afraid to touch it, and chances are good that the person or company who created it is no longer around to update it. By virtualizing and encapsulating the application and its environment, you can extend its life, maintain uptime, and finally get rid of that old Pentium machine hidden in the corner of the data center. You know the one, it’s all covered in dust with fingerprints from administrators long gone and names forgotten.
1. Help move things to the cloud
As much as you think you’ve been talked to death about virtualizing your environment, that probably doesn’t even compare to the amount of times in the last year alone that you’ve had someone talk to you about joining “the cloud.” The good news is that by virtualizing your servers and abstracting away the underlying hardware, you are preparing yourself for a move into the cloud. The first step may be to move from a simple virtualized data center to a private cloud. But as the public cloud matures, and the technology around it advances and you become more comfortable with the thought of moving data out of your data center and into a cloud hosting facility, you will have had a head start in getting there. The journey along the way will have better prepared you and the organization.