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What Can We Do With Virtualization?

Virtual Infrastructure Summit At VMWorld 2005
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So what can I use virtualized hardware for, and what will its benefits be in the future?

The most obvious use of virtualization is testing. You can deploy your software project on many virtualized machines and test to see if it works as expected. When you are ready to go live, you can either move the VMs to physical servers, reinstall on physical servers, or simply run them on a production virtual infrastructure machine by copying the VM files to it.

If you need to demonstrate your fancy new application to your customers, just bring the VMs along on your laptop and run them at your sales meeting. If you need to deploy servers very quickly, this only requires copying an existing VM and individualizing it, and you are ready to go.

Let's say you have a server that changes daily and you want the ability to easily go back to yesterday's server image. Just run a script on said VM, and you have a real-time file-consistent copy of your VM stored on your chosen file server every day.

The list goes on and on. We would imagine that even VMWare has no comprehensive list of all the uses its customers have for its products.

Existing Benefits

Some benefits of server virtualization, out of the box, are the following:

  • Fewer servers running at a low CPU utilization
  • Consolidation of legacy hardware
  • Fewer servers on the KVM switch system
  • Fewer servers that need be physically connected to network infrastructure
  • Fewer servers that require hardware management
  • Lower time to market
  • Backup/disaster recovery benefits
  • etc.

However, virtualization has been far from cheap. We have heard about examples of vendors selling a 16-blade stack of servers at a lower cost than implementing one large server with 16 VMs on it, simply because ESX server is quite costly, and machines with more than 2 CPUs are still quite expensive too.

Multi Core Chips Conquer The Benefits List

A couple of weeks ago, VMWare released version 2.52 of ESX server, which supports AMD dual core CPUs. The smart idea to license ESX sever by CPU socket instead of by core has effectively slashed the cost of implementing virtual hardware. You can now go out and buy a 1U rack server with two dual core CPUs (four cores in total) that will double your virtual server density at a lot lower cost than buying a 2U server with four physical CPUs. Also, your ESX server license will only need to be suitable for two CPUs with the dual core server.

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