Virtualization: Why it’s a Crucial Technology for the Cloud

Virtualization is the Holy Grail solution of just everything IT talks about. Being in this industry for some time I really see and have experienced VMware as a market disruptor that is taking giant steps in almost all the fields related to Virtualization.

First of all, let’s give an exact definition of what Virtualization is. Speaking about computing, Virtualization refers to the act of creating a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, including but not limited to a virtual computer hardware platform, operating system (OS), storage device, or computer network resources, as Wikipedia says. In other terms, it’s just a software emulation of a physical resource.
Before and After Virtualization: What happens to an Operating System
Virtualization has been there in this industry since so long, legacy data-centers breed many bad practices such as decentralized server management, haphazard cables and a lot of other bad data-center design patterns. Think about old Linux jails or Solaris Zones. Now with VMware and the other virtualization solutions provider, we can at least offload some of the sinful operations to just one physical server and then use the rest for more productive tasks or just decommission them for cost saving. Life moves on like that and with each passing day, we welcome new interesting features that make our life easier and better.

In this post, we’ll see some reasons why Virtualization is important in modern datacenters and of course in the Cloud, the area where we can really exploit all the potential of Virtualization Techniques. I’m mostly focused on VMware solutions, but most of what you find here will apply to other vendors too.

7 reasons why Virtualization Technologies are so important

Go green: You may not care too much of environmental issues, but still, Virtualization can help to save some power in your data center, improving the health of the Planet and of your pocket. VMware and other provider’s innovative software makes so that our server consolidation happens in our data-center and we can get rid of hefty power bills and reduce carbon footprint to some extent. In fact, Virtualization can make very efficient use of the underlying hardware resources, helping a lot of using them more proficiently and effectively.

Better hyper-converged architecture: the world talks about it and now it has become a reality. Hyper-convergence leads to fast server provisioning and builds up the whole stack in a fraction of seconds, thus improving our software delivery life-cycles.

Vendor Lock-in: this has been a long-standing issue and some vendors have used this feature at their advantage. In fact, one of the most common criticisms of public clouds is the fact that it’s not easy to migrate your infrastructure elsewhere. Although your mileage may vary and this constraint might be way less significant for some vendors compared to others, it’s undeniable that virtualization solutions in your own private data center will free you from any risk.

High Availability: Reducing downtime is a major benefit we can reap. However, it again depends on the architecture and service level agreements. But HA and other advanced features have given a new face to customer services and when the VM is always available, then it shows that vmotion, fault tolerance, and other advanced VMware cluster services are in the game providing resiliency and availability to the design.

Disaster Recovery: force majeure, that is a natural or unforeseen catastrophe, can happen anytime and organizations spend millions to billions of dollars as a preventive measure exercise. With VM’s hardware abstraction capability, we can reduce the SILOs observed in such scenarios as depending on hardware, expensive hardware costs, failure to automate failovers. All such dependencies can now be removed if you have a VM in hand, it’s easy to apply replication policies across geo-distributed data-centers and thus automate the failover scenarios across long distances too.

Application isolation and extended life: Isolating the application layer is probably the best feature ever that Virtualization can grant. You can host multiple applications per physical host and can isolate them well and migrate them also along with VMs because the application level dependency is tied to VMs and not to physical host. It is no coincidence that application isolation software like Linux Container or Docker is getting such strong traction: the advantages of this approach are overwhelming when you have to host multiple applications on the same VM or on the same physical host.

Cloud, cloud, cloud: You probably now understand why Cloud couldn’t exist with all its incredible features (elasticity, scalability, etc) without Virtualization. You can ride on the Cloud bandwagon with VMware to hosting a private or hybrid cloud as per business requirements, provisioning cloud services, automating workflows and doing everything that cloud provides. Virtualization is the first step and once you understand the capacity planning well, it will be much easier to fly in cloud. And if you are interested in better understanding the modern Virtualization Technologies, and how they can their magic under the hood, check out the Cloud Academy’s Introduction to Virtualization Technologies course.

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