I read an article in The Wall Street Journal recently that told me what I already know: virtualization is gaining furious ground in spite of—or, more likely, because of—the sputtering economy.
According to the Journal, and Gartner Inc.’s technology conference in Orlando, Fla., upon which the story was reporting, virtualization is enjoying attention from the business world for the way it offers managers the means to stretch their dollars further by employing existing resources more profitably. Our studies demonstrate that companies that virtualized increased the utilization of their existing hardware to 80%, a remarkable spike from 10-15%.
Virtualization, strictly speaking, describes the creation of a virtual (rather than an actual) version of something like, say, an operating system or a server. In computerspeak, we’re talking about a layer of software providing the illusion of an actual machine, where none in fact exists.
The technology first made a splash decades ago in the mainframe game, furnishing administrators with new command over their costly processing power. Today, virtualization is making serious inroads in the network, storage and server virtualization realms.
Virtualization can help companies to reduce their IT management expenses and shrink their dependence on the human resources that would otherwise have been tied up with the administration of multiple applications and operating systems on multiple servers.
With virtualization, users can tap a single phantom server to run multiple applications and operating systems independently. On top of that, administrators can use virtualization to shift workloads from one virtual workstation to another.
It’s also a boon to a company’s ability to prioritize its business activities and maximize server resources by facilitating the fluid transfer of tasks from one virtual workstation to another.
But above all, virtualization aids business owners to do more with less.
Network virtualization is probably the biggest site of activity in this field. Just as adding a partition to your hard drive effectively gives you two discrete hard drives, network virtualization splits the network’s available bandwidth into independent channels, each of which is affiliated with a particular server or device.
With storage virtualization, multiple network storage devices join forces (or at least appear to), and offer a central point of control.
And server virtualization just means performing a clever bit of trompe l’oeil on all your servers to make them appear a single, simple one.
At 360, we’ve helped countless businesses clients take lucrative control of their IT infrastructure and reach their full potential with virtualization. We’ve showed them how to streamline those businesses processes that are adjacent but often disconnected, and to reduce the downtime that plagues systems marked by a tangle of different inputs. And, more than that, we’ve slashed company hardware and operating costs by up to 50% and saved more than $3,000 annually for every server workload virtualized.
The Journal article reports that, last year, there were 5.8 million virtualized servers in the United States; Gartner predicts that number to rise ten-fold by 2012. As for us at 360 and our readiness to service this onslaught, well, we’re already there. Virtually.