Friday, October 29, 2010

10 Reasons to Virtualize Your Infrastructure

Data CentersThere are many reasons out there why virtualization is big right now. Virtualization can save you money, lower the number of physical servers you need, and it is environmentally friendly. However, there are a lot of other reasons you may want to virtualize your infrastructure, especially if you work with virtual machines.

1. Common Management Interface
While it is very awesome and useful to have all of your servers available in a single application, it is even better to have the ability to control those servers from that single interface. Virtualization offers access to virtual machine hardware, consoles and storage, and your entire network of systems is at your disposal.

2. ILO Not Required
If your technicians don't set up your Integrated Lights Out (ILO) interfaces, then virtualization removes that burden for the better. With virtualization you can boot VM from a powered-off state without any need for physical access to the system.

3. Easy Hardware Changes
Most companies dread upgrading their systems and changing their hardware. Getting into all the nooks and crannies of your infrastructure is no picnic. And if your hardware doesn't work, then you have to repeat the process all over again. No thanks. With virtualization you can upgrade memory, increase the number of CPUs or even add new hard disks to a VM with some simple mouse clicks.

4. Snapshots
VMs have the incredible feature of having a snapshot capability built-in. A snapshot is an exact copy of your working VM prior to doing something to it that has the potential to make it not work. However, with snapshot you can revert to the snapshot and remove the faulty VM.

5. Prototyping
Using a standard VM, you have the ability to prototype an application, database or operating system enhancement without spending hours trying to rebuild the physical system in your head before the unsuccessful attempt.

6. Fast System Communication
Host-to-guest as well as guest-to-guest communications occur without any standard physical hardware restrictions. Private VLANs create a system-to-system communication that is secure as well as fast. By using a private VLAN for a group of VMs you can create a multi-tier application with limited outside network exposure and without a lengthy set of allow and deny network rules.

7. Easy Decommissioning
There is a lot that goes into decommissioning a physical system. You have to turn off network ports, wipe the disks, unplug the system, remove the system from the rack and then dispose of the system. A VM's decommissioning process does basically the same thing only you do not have to be at the actual data center. There are also no systems to remove or return. Removing your VM from inventory will take you a mere couple of seconds.

8. Templating
It takes one gold disk for every new type of hardware that you incorporate in your network to support a data center. With VM it takes one Windows Server 2008 R2 VM for everything. You only need one template that contains everything needed for deployment.

9. Fast Deployment
VMs do not require shipping, do not require installation, do not require power hookups, do not require network drops and do not require SAN cabling. By using templates or staged ISO images, a VM's deployment can take only minutes or at most a few hours.

10. Dynamic Capacity
With a traditional system you will have to plan far in advance to scale-up for a major marketing campaign that requires new physical computing capacity. However, virtualization allows you to rapidly respond to changing business conditions. You can scale-up whenever you need the extra capacity and even scale back whenever you don't.

It seems that virtualization can do a lot for your company's infrastructure by making things a whole heck of a lot easier. If it is within your company to do so, maybe virtualization is the perfect next step for you. Just make sure you do all your research first.
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