Information departments have the mandate to increase operational efficiency and services at a reduced cost while at the same time maintaining more applications, and supporting more users.
One method to achieve this is virtualization. Virtualization allows a physical server to be partitioned into several virtual servers, each appearing to the applications running in them as if the virtual machine (VM) was a physical server. This has several advantages:
- Scalability - Virtual Machines can be reduced, added or reconfigured as needed
- Efficiency - Servers can run at peak capacity
- Economy - Less equipment, space, and cooling costs and easier management
- Reliability - Virtual machines can be configured to take over loads or replace failed application
- Ease of use - Virtual machines can be centrally managed
Intel® Virtualization Technology can help to contain costs by increasing the potential of consolidating computing resources into less physical devices and automating their management.
The Intel approach of hardware-assisted virtualization using Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT) provides hardware assistance that enables virtual machine solutions to operate more efficiently, be managed more effectively, and be developed more easily and quickly.
Virtual Technology Improvements
Virtualization’s basic use is to achieve better utilization of hardware and manage software heterogeneity. With technology breakthroughs like Intel® Virtualization technology hardware from Intel and software from vendors like VMWare*, XEN*, RedHat*, Novell*, XenSource*, and Virtual Iron*, and the availability of powerful, VM supporting multi-processor hardware, this is changing.
A virtualized server can now provide the required isolation between VMs ensuring that a problem on one VM does not affect the others while concurrently making better use of available processor, memory, and I/O resources. One can have similar functionality and performance while simplifying server management, saving energy, HVAC capacity, reducing the physical server footprint, and efficiently using all resources.
One form of consolidation that can benefit from virtualization is consolidation.
Use Case - Virtual Application Consolidation
Virtualization replaces the need for installing more servers and improves IT capability and flexibility. IT departments utilize many application workloads. Consolidating several applications into fewer servers via virtualization is an important use case.
The Purpose of Application Consolidation
Application Consolidation is the consolidation of multiple applications and application instances on a single server. Application consolidation provides numerous benefits including increased server utilization, simplified IT infrastructure management, elimination of redundancies, increased performance, reduced maintenance costs, and reductions in the cost, time and risks associated with application upgrades.
Consolidating applications is either homogeneous or heterogeneous consol idation.
Homogeneous consolidation combines several instances of the same application on a single server. This is usually a server workload consolidation combining the work once done on multiple servers running the same application onto fewer servers with more capacity.
Heterogeneous application consolidation combines several different application types on the same server. This requires each application to behave correctly and allow other applications to use required resources, something not always possible in the past. Many applications are designed to take over the entire server for the application’s exclusive use. Failing that, certain problems can arise due to incompatibilities of application design (applications using the same resource at the same time for example). There is also the problem of combining applications that require different operating systems, drivers, and other infrastructures. Virtualization can replicate system resources and give exclusive access for individual applications.
Legacy software is often a problem for many IT departments. Dedicating a machine to an obsolete operating system is a waste of resources, but is necessary to run the legacy application. By creating a virtual machine tailored to the legacy environment, the software can share a machine but run in isolation and will not cause problems for other applications that require that latest OS to run. This solution also works well for badly behaved applications that tend to bring down servers, crashing other applications also running on the server. By creating a VM for the application, a problem will be isolated in the virtual machine.
Recent innovations in server hardware like Intel® VT and innovations in virtual software like source Xen, Microsoft Virtual Server*, and VMware support the operation of servers with mixed application workloads. Now multiple, previously incompatible, applications can run on a single server each in its own virtual partition.
Application Consolidation with Virtual Technology
Virtualization allows multiple applications or application instances to share the same platform and resources without interfering with each other. With virtual machine software, each application is allowed to access only resources it is allowed to use with the effect that the application and the operating system running in the VM perceives that it has its own dedicated hardware. The VM contains the guest operating system in a secure partition of the hardware platform. Each VM can be configured exactly as the application requires and this has no effect on the applications sharing the physical server each in its own VM world.
By allowing applications to share the same virtualized infrastructure enterprises can realize hardware utilization rates approaching 100 percent instead of the typical 15 percent on standalone machine. Application consolidation using virtualization is highly recommended when you have a multiple applications which are using low system resources.
The Benefits of Virtual Application Consolidation for IT intensive businesses:
- Improved reliability
- Improved availability
- Improved control of IT resources
- Improved service levels
- Improved security
- Improved utilization of computing resources
- Improved standardization
- Reduced server operating costs
- Reduced space requirements for equipment
- Support for legacy and problem software
With the improvements made to virtualization technology supporting hardware by Intel and software performance and ability improvements by vendors working with Intel, what was previously only desirable is now readily available. Intel is working to provide a wide range of platforms supporting virtualization technologies.