What is Server Virtualization?
Computer has made things simple for the human kind and with the technological developments; it has become a basic and essential need of every business. It is useful not only in simplifying and managing the workloads, but also helps out businesses to carry out their offsite work functions, even though, if they are geographically separated. Under these circumstances, maintaining numerous computers can complicate the work environment and also can increase the operational expenses.
So, at this stage, server virtualization comes into use, where it is a technique of running multiple independent virtual operating systems on a single physical server system. The process is carried out in an intelligent way, where the masking of server resources is kept isolated from the server users. This masking will include physical servers, processors and operating systems. The division of physical server, into multiple servers is carried out by the use of virtualization software.
The actual machine where virtualization takes place is called as Host machine. All those guest operating systems which are virtualized onto the host are assigned with the name of virtual machines.
3 Types of Server Virtualization
The Virtualization of server can be done in three popular ways: Paravirtual machine model, full virtualization or virtual machine model and virtualization at operating system layer.
Full Virtualization or Virtual Machine Model
In this virtualization model, each guest runs on the virtual imitation of the hardware layer. This makes the Virtual guest operating system to run without modifications. It is complete simulation of actual hardware to allow the working of guest software. In this virtualization, the guest has no idea about the proprietor operating system and is in the illusion that, it is the proprietary operating system. A hypervisor does the coordination of instructions to the CPU and so the hypervisor is called as a virtual machine monitor. The duty of the hypervisor is to validate all the instructions from the CPU and manage executed code that requires additional privileges. Click here to view Stonefly products featuring the Virtual Machine Model.
In this Paravirtual machine model, the guest models are modified in order to run in this virtual environment. This modification is assigned a name of porting and it allows the utilization of privileged systems calls sparingly.
Virtualization at the OS level
In this virtualization, each virtualized environment is isolated from its other guests, so that, a failure or security breach in one partition cannot affect any other virtualized partitions. This type of server virtualization, the host runs a kernel of single OS at its core and exports operating system by assigning it to each guest OS. Virtual guest machines are allowed to use same operating system, as the host, although same systems are allowed. It helps in CPU usage overhead, as the distribution architecture eliminates system calls between layers.
Server Virtualization leads to carbon footprint reduction
Environmental biologists on global front are screaming with their voices to save the planet and go green by reducing the carbon footprint in everyone’s day to day activities. From the past one decade, there is also a noteworthy drive for all companies to go green, by reducing carbon footprint, in order to pave way for corporate sustainability.
Practically, by going with server virtualization technology, one can reduce carbon footprint, generated by the company. Here is how it is possible:
- Server Virtualization generates less heat – It is a known fact that heat generation is proportional to the number of servers and to tackle the heat, the company needs to deploy more number of cooling solutions. As a result Heat generation is causing the installation of more number of cooling solutions and this leads to more consumption of power than usual. If the servers are consolidated and virtualized, then the amount of carbon footprint can be reduced significantly.
- Lessening of management is observed by sticking to server virtualization – by reducing the number of servers, usually less staff is required to maintain and manage them. Server virtualization does the same as it consolidates the server count and reduces it to one. So, as a result less number of staff needs to be employed and so fewer bodies working equals less energy exertion, this will directly reflect on lessening of carbon footprint.
- Less power consumption is seen in virtualization – If a company bounds to reduced number of servers by virtualization, then the power consumption factor will also get reduced. As a result, less amounts of energy is consumed to run a business operation and in this way, a green initiative can be carried out.
- Generation of Obsolete hardware gets reduced – It is a known fact that, obsolete hardware needs to be sensibly discarded as it can cause electronic-waste pollution. Sometimes recycling can give a solution for it, but it doesn’t offer a permanent option. So, as a result of this obsolete hardware, e-waste pollution will generate carbon footprint. Server virtualization technology, offers multiple servers on a common hardware platform and so as a result of it, hardware utility increases and the presence of more hardware tools decreases.
Ten Challenges faced by Server Virtualization
Till now, you have got an idea about the technology of server virtualization and its benefits. Now let us discuss about the challenges faced by the IT world.
- Performance and workload – When an underutilized server is compelled to increase its utilization capacity, the need to manage the server performance in a better way arises. Some applications need only less CPU utilization, while some need more CPU utilization, which can also overpower the threshold limit of the server performance. The sudden increase of utilization can cause serious troubles and can lead to downtime.
- Operational processes and procedures – this is interlinked to the first challenge, where the server utilization may require an organization to redefine internal processes in order to monitor performance along with server diagnostics.
- In the absence of system architecture and design – before going for virtualization of server, it is better, if the IT manager makes a little bit homework on storage capacity, network bandwidth, hardware components selection and the amount of CPU usage. This makes things easy for the IT manager as this effort to plan for virtualization will meet the expected success.
- Storage allocation must be prioritized – Each application needs a specific storage space and if the storage space is allotted more that the requirement, it will be surely underutilized. If the storage allocation is not appropriate, then there is risk that the application can run out of storage space and this will hinder its performance.
- Security vulnerability – Having multiple operating systems on a single host system can make it prone to security vulnerabilities, despite the existence of a robust firewall and a malware protection. So, in an amplified virtual environment be sure to address security patching and access control.
- All virtual servers are not same – It is a wise conclusion that all virtual servers do not serve with the same performance and proficiency. Therefore it is better to conduct a better depth, before going for an in-depth comparative analysis. This will help in finding out the best virtual server, as per the requirements which offer high level security and data scalability.
- Software License needs to be observed – It is a known fact, that most of the software vendors do not consider virtual servers to be different from physical servers. So, for this reason, the software licenses are made compulsory for each operating systems and applications that are running on a host or a virtual system. Conversely, certain software vendors also warn the IT managers, from using their software’s on virtual environment. So, it is better to go through the terms and agreement of the software vendor and then install it in virtual environment.
- Applications running in virtual environment – It is a proven fact that some applications are not compatible with virtual environments and so there will surely be a performance deplete in them. So, by making sure that the applications are running appropriately in Virtualized environment, one need to carefully watch them and go for an alternative if needed.
- Hardware capabilities – Intensive capacity planning is required, in order to match the hardware capabilities with the server environment. The planning must include providing RAM facilities, physical hard disks, well capable network adapters and an efficient CPU. In order to go for disaster recovery plan, it is better to invest on redundant hardware at the same time.
- Security and disaster recovery issues – It is better to have a perfect backup plan in the virtualized environment. In the case of hardware failure, or any kind of problem, virtual machines must be restored with a different arrangement of virtual setup, in order to reduce downtime.
Myths and Facts about Server virtualization
Server Virtualization offers cost-effective computing solutions to large as well as small enterprises. It maximizes the resource utilization and enhances the security if the network to certain extent. At the same time, a proper virtualized architecture, can pave way for disaster recovery on an economical note. Conversely, many myths are circling around it, which is directly affecting its existence and also its perpetuation. Here are some of the Myths and facts about virtual servers.
1. MYTH – Virtual server will be pretty expensive Fact – When the primary objective of server virtualization is to save money for the organization, then going by this myth, it doesn’t make sense. The fact is that with a proper capacity analysis and its related planning, virtualization of server can be served at the lowest price. Moreover, there are different kinds of servers, available in the market and so the pricing depends on the type and efficiency of them. Virtual servers will surely justify its presence in the enterprise environment with its traits.
2. MYTH – Virtual machines are more vulnerable to security threats Fact – This is purely an unwise thought as virtual machines are always on par with the physical systems, when it comes to physical servers. The fact is that virtualization simplifies the task of making the security as foolproof.
3. MYTH – Establishing and managing Virtual environment is a daunting task Fact – There is no truth in this myth as virtual systems act as physical systems and doesn’t need any kind of extraordinary management. Its deployment is easy and so is its management.
4. MYTH – Migration of applications on virtual servers is difficult Fact – All applications, except few, will have the capabilities to run on both physical and virtual environments and so does their migration abilities.
5. MYTH – Efficiency of virtual servers is doubtful Fact – Gone are the days, when virtual server efficiency was not on par with the physical servers. Now the technology has advanced and so virtual machines are exhibiting more resilience and efficiency, if deployed on high performance oriented CPUs powered by gigabit Ethernet.
6. MYTH – Backup and disaster recovery is complex Fact – The fact is that Virtual server’s offer backup and recovery time in a quick way. The restoration process is simple as the replacement of damaged files with undamaged files is done in just few minutes to spare.
7. MYTH – Server Virtualization comes with licensing problems Fact – This is a biased fact, as most of the physical servers need to follow a set of licensing standards in order to carry on with their work functions. The same implies to virtual servers, where the need for license is a necessity, which comes on with a load of benefits.
8. MYTH – Virtualization causes server sprawl which is complex
Fact – Server Virtualization maximizes the utilization of hardware resources and doesn’t create any server sprawl. But the number of virtual machines depends on the availability of computing resources and adroitness of the IT admin.
Server Virtualization benefits
- Server virtualization helps in saving money in buying hardware as it partitions a server into multiple virtual systems and uses the hardware of the host system.
- Reduction in downtime and server stability is usually observed in the Virtualization technology and so this ensures high availability of applications and also offers prompt disaster recovery options for data continuity.
- Since, virtualized servers work isolated from each other, they are gripped with utmost security and so are used as sandboxes and honeypots. Facts – Sandbox is a created environment, where testing experiments can be conducted, without affecting the real system. Honeypot – Honeypot is like a trap, which detects or deflects unauthorized usage of the host system or its virtual guest machines.
- Server footprint gets reduced in a virtualized environment as number of servers gets consolidated and this is also a cost saving factor.
Server Virtualization is one among the other trends related to virtualization technology, which are network virtualization, storage virtualization and workload management. As the development of virtualization technology is taking place from time to time, autonomic computing is slowly gripping the server environment as it facilitates the management based on perceived activity. Elimination of server sprawl is possible only by server virtualization and it can also assist disaster recovery, offer centralized server administration and will improve server availability. It is like a boon to businesses, as it cuts their costs, without affecting their businesses. At the same time, server virtualization also increases the efficiency of a company’s data center.