Decrease non-hardware operational costs with virtualization. While the most obvious operating-cost advantages associated with virtualization are those from hardware total cost of ownership, other substantial cost savings are available as well. The article "Consolidation Strategies for Intel® Processor-based Servers" examines the return on investment advantages that are available from the implementation of Intel® Virtualization Technology and other Intel® Enterprise Technologies.
Virtualization supports high availability and security, simplifies migrations, streamlines test and development, and increases business agility in several key ways, which translate into cost savings to the organization. The first of these categories is high availability and security:
- Fault Isolation: Most application failures are caused by software faults. Virtualization provides logical isolation between virtual partitions, so a software fault in one partition is very unlikely to impact an application in another partition. Logical isolation also helps to contain digital attacks, which improves security in consolidated environments.
- Failover Flexibility: Virtual partitions can be configured to provide automatic fail-over for one or more applications. Given the high-availability features now supported in platforms based on the Intel® Itanium® 2 processor and the Intel® Xeon® processor MP, service-level requirements can often be met by providing a failover partition on the same platform as the primary application. If even higher availability is required, the failover partition can be hosted on a separate platform. It is also possible to set up a virtual cluster across the multiple platforms to further minimize failover time.
- Differential Security: Different security settings can be implemented for each virtual machine, allowing IT organizations to maintain a high level of control over end-user and administrative privileges.
The next category is that of simplifying operating-system and hardware migrations. A key advantage of virtualization is that it simplifies the migrat ion of legacy applications onto new platforms to increase performance, reliability, and manageability. Instead of migrating the application onto a new operating system, it can be hosted with the existing operating system in a virtual partition on the new platform, with no need for software modification. This strategy can often be used to extend the useful life of legacy applications at relatively little cost and with less risk.
Benefits are also available in terms of streamlining test and development. Virtualization offers similar advantages for development and test environments. Successive iterations of the software stack, including the production version, can be hosted in separate virtual partitions on the same platform. This can improve hardware utilization and simplify lifecycle management. In many cases, IT organizations may be able to test new and upgraded solutions on existing production platforms, without disrupting the production environment. This not only simplifies migration but also can further reduce costs by eliminating the need for duplicate environments.
Virtualization also increases business agility. It is far easier to provision or resize a virtual partition than to purchase and deploy a new hardware platform. Today’s automated provisioning solutions add to this advantage, and can dramatically improve IT responsiveness. Businesses can deploy fewer platforms, and use them more flexibly to address volatile requirements.
Virtualization software is available today from a number of providers, giving Intel® architecture-based servers capabilities that were previously available only on mainframes. Examples of the solutions available in this ecosystem include the following:
- VMWare(EMC): ESX Server*, VMWare Server*, VMWare Player*, and VirtualCenter*
- Microsoft: Virtual Server* and Virtual PC*
- Xen opensource community: Xen
- Virtual Iron: Virtual Iron*
- SW Soft: Virtuozzo*
- Parallels: Parallels Workstation*
Many businesses are achieving 20-to-1 or even 30-to-1 consolidation ratios by moving legacy applications onto 4-way to 16-way Intel processor-based platforms.1
Enterprises must also consider the software licensing costs that may arise from virtualization, however. In cases where additional instances of operating systems and application software must be licensed, there can be additional costs, depending on how the solution is designed. As vendors work through these licensing issues, network architects and administrators need to keep up on policy changes.
Virtualization will become increasingly important as Intel® dual-core processors enter the marketplace. In conjunction with Hyper-Threading Technology from Intel, a 2-way platform w ith dual-core processors will support up to eight software threads; a 4-way platform up to 16 threads; an 8-way platform up to 32 threads; and a 16-way platform up to 64 threads. This will offer great flexibility for supporting multiple applications efficiently on a single platform.
1 For more information, visit the Intel Web site at /en-us/articles/intel-virtualization-developer-community ; or read the Intel white paper: Twenty-to-One Consolidation on Intel® Architecture. Intel Product Virtualization white paper at: Intel® Virtualization Technology for Connectivity