If you've been a part of any meetings with us, you've probably heard us talk about server virtualization. And like many things in the IT world, this important process is impossible to physically see. Because its elusiveness within the physical world can be frustrating when trying to understand it, we want to share some of the efficiencies and capabilities made possible by virtualization.
What is Server Virtualization?
Through virtualization, one physical server, called a host, can be split into several different virtual machines (VMs), called guests. Doing this allows us to set multiple physical servers behind a virtual layer of protection.
Most servers only use a small portion of their processing capabilities. In the past, one server would be used to run one application. Each server was one physical machine with its own hardware; it had a CPU, RAM, and storage independently. By virtualizing server space, the network can consolidate many applications on one physical server that wasn't being used to its fullest potential. Now, servers run on virtualization software that then requests resources (CPU, RAM) from the physical servers.
In short, server virtualization is the partition of a physical server into smaller virtual servers in order to maximize server resources. Here's a helpful video for the visual learners (video made by VMWare, a company we often use for virtualization software):
Reasons for Virtualization
- Each virtual server can be rebooted and backed up independently to restore data while maintaining efficient levels of functioning. Physical hosts and storage devices can also be added or removed without affecting service.
- Virtualization centralizes administrative tasks while improving scalability. Several operating systems can be run on a single central processing unit (CPU), allowing administrators to better manage updates and changes without disrupting users.
- Virtualization establishes necessary redundancy. With VMs, a network can run the same application on multiple servers as a safety measure. If one server fails, another server can take over, minimizing any service interruptions.
If it's right for our client's company, we make it a priority to virtualize hardware. It's an imperative step in stabilizing the IT environment with the perpetual goal of less downtime.