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Cheaper and Greener: A Look at the Server Virtualization Trend

 
情報技術 2011年8月23日

Rapid Access International, Inc.

August 2009.

http://www.rapidaccess.com/

The severe global economic environment that has persisted throughout much of 2008 and into 2009 is having a direct impact on the budgets and priorities of companies and government agencies. Chief among their concerns is finding ways to reduce their costs. A Green IT management trend that has picked up pace, in part as a response to these concerns, is server virtualization.

According to Gartner, Inc., “virtualization will be the highest-impact trend changing infrastructure and operations through 2012”.(※1)

What is Server Virtualization?

The term server virtualization, like most terminology in the IT field, is a vague and complicated name for a concept that is really quite simple: the partitioning of a single server so that it appears and acts as multiple servers. The primary reason for partitioning servers has been in order to simultaneously and independently run different operating systems on these server sections referred to as virtual private servers, or virtual machines.

The concept of server virtualization is not especially new. Mainframe computers have long been partitioned in order to run multiple instances of an operating system, for example, to create redundancy or increase the efficiency of a mainframe. What is new, is the significant advances in both software and hardware that have enabled virtualization on common industry-standard servers.

One of the primary players in server virtualization is VMware, located in Palo Alto, CA. VMware is majority owned by EMC Corporation.

Cheaper and Greener: A Win-Win

There can be a significant cost savings wherever one server can be used to perform the duties of two or more servers. This is due not only to the fact that fewer servers need to be purchased and maintained, but significant savings can also be achieved as a result of lower overall power consumption.

Less hardware translates into a reduction in costs associated with server infrastructure, such as electricity, and physical space. It is not uncommon for a virtualization effort to result in the reduction of a company’s or agency’s server population by a ratio of 6:1 or greater.

Server virtualization as Green IT offers cost savings and, combined with the current push for green computing practices, it is particularly palatable from both a public relations and a political standpoint.

In an interview we conducted with Mr. Shannon McGurk, a former Manager at IBM's Consultative Storage Optimization Services, it was mentioned that "the storage market is critical to the success of all companies as data needs to be archived in a cost-efficient manner. Server virtualization offers substantial cost savings through more efficient use of storage and servers by leveraging better software and technology advancements as well as partitioning servers to operate in leaner and more energy and cost efficient environments."

Enabling Storage Virtualization: ‘Cloud Computing’.

The reduction in power consumption that server virtualization can provide is further magnified by enabling data consolidation. Instead of relying upon stand-alone storage devices tethered to individual servers, data referenced by these partitioned virtual machines is typically accessed from shared storage devices and storage area networks (SAN).

The trade association serving the interests of companies servicing the software and hardware needs of SANs is the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).(※2) A list of member companies can be obtained from the SNIA website, using the following hyperlink: SNIA Member Directory

Many companies have begun to outsource their data storage needs to vendors that can manage and store the data more cost-effectively. This is not a trend that has been gaining much traction with government agencies because of concerns about data security; however, it is likely that this will change. If service providers can show that they can host and secure these storage systems more cost effectively than their government counterparts, a strong argument will undoubtedly be made for outsourcing this task.

The practice of hosting storage capacity in is known as “cloud computing”.

Interestingly, some government agencies with excess storage capacity have actually begun to harness these internal resources by serving as a cloud vendor to their own customers. An example of this is the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE).(※3, 4)

Key Trends in IT Management:

• Server Virtualization

• Energy efficient IT (Green IT / Green Initiatives)

• Cost-Cutting Strategies

• Data Consolidation

• Cloud Computing

Other Resources:

Gartner: 2009 Top 10 Strategic Technologies. http://www.cmswire.com/cms/enterprise-20/gartner-2009-top-10-strategic-technologies-003348.php#evt-never

Accessed August 3, 2009.

Server Virtualization for Going Green 2008-2011. Report Published by: Infiniti Research Limited. Published: Apr. 28, 2009 - 21 Pages.


(※1)Gartner Says Virtualization Will Be the Highest-Impact Trend in Infrastructure and Operations Market Through 2012. http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=638207

Accessed August 3, 2009

(※2)Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Member Directory. http://www.snia.org/member_com/member_directory/

 Accessed August 3, 2009.

(※3)DISA to offer on-demand computing environment in 2009. http://www.nextgov.com/welcome/?d=15&rf=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nextgov.com%2Fnextgov%2Fng_20080711_1829.php

Accessed August 3, 2009.

(※4)Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE) Website. http://www.disa.mil/race/

Accessed August 3, 2009

 

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