Compute Virtualization – An Introduction
Virtualization, in computing, is the creation of a virtual version of something like a server, a storage device, a network or even an operating system where the resources are divided into one or more execution environments.
Compute virtualization is a simplification of traditional architecture to reduce the number of physical devices. This enables us to run multiple operating systems on a single machine. The same concept can be implemented on a pool of machines.
It also helps in reducing the maintenance costs as it splits the physical server into many smaller servers. These servers can be run on different computers. This experiment will increase the efficiency of IT services and software.
In the early days of the computer revolution, the standard practice was to install software on one application as per the servers, to avoid any incompatibility issue. Also, the development of hardware was more in fashion and the software were getting neglected. Thus, the hardware were not being used to its full potential.
VMware’s founders seem to have understood the potential and put forward the changes through resources like microprocessors along with the UNIX architecture and virtual machine monitors. These changes helped the industry in shifting their stand toward virtualization.
Many renowned companies like Citrix, VMware and Microsoft are trying to implement compute virtualization for servers by dividing the actual physical machine into several virtual machines. The main object is to manage all these virtual machines through hypervisor. It is a software layer that intercepts the calls of the operating system and allocate a certain amount of virtual CPU and RAM to the available virtual machines.
There are two types of hypervisors. The first one runs directly on the hardware resources of the server like Microsoft’s Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and VMware ESX, while other one runs on the existing OS like VMware Workstation and SWSoft’s Parallels Desktop.
Two more techniques – Desktop Virtualization and Storage Virtualization – are also being used.
In desktop virtualization, the desktop computers are separated from their physical hardware and can be accessed on the network. The user can use it like a physical desktop on the network.
In storage virtualization, it can be divided into two parts like file and block virtualization. Here, the storage part is separated so that the storage contents can be accessed over a network.
Advantages of compute virtualization:
- Better Security
Data security strengthens, as the data is split between many computers and the resources are masked from the users. The lost data can be reclaimed from another virtual server in the event of an emergency. This increases the flexibility of the network, and virus & malware problems can be dealt with ease.
- Better Administration
It is far easier to manage, as the server is divided into several virtual servers. The business procedures and the server licensing also get simplified.
- Saving Money
The virtual servers can be kept at manageable locations. The hardware and electricity costs are reduced automatically as the managing cost is reduced.
- Centralized Server
Compute virtualization centralizes the company’s IT architecture. The network becomes very efficient and the data can be accessed by many users at any time and at any place.
- Easier Software Testing Environment
A powerful testing environment can be created to allow testing in diverse conditions and operating systems.
The latest technological advances are making compute virtualization faster, more efficient and more secure. The cost of the equipment is getting more cost efficient. The uses and the users of compute virtualization will increase. Thus, encouraging even smaller organizations to go for server virtualization. It will help both, big and small organizations to become more efficient. Compute virtualization can also help save money for software testing, as it helps in creating a solid testing environment. It does not require multiple servers at one go.
VMware has introduced bare-metal hypervisors that can run directly on the hardware without the intervention of any operating system. Hypervisor is a modified Red Hat Linux kernel. It uses the hardware efficiently.
The powerful servers are being developed at a fast pace, but the corresponding software is a far cry. It is yet to match the server’s full potential. Therefore, compute virtualization is required for utilizing the server’s full potential.