Administration Issues

Virtualization dramatically changes how your systems operate and how they are managed. System administrators are used to the one-to-one connection between the software applications they support and the hardware on which they run. Virtualization changes this model, so that the direct connection between operating system and application software and hardware is broken. You can no longer easily point to a particular server and say that "this is application X."

Another issue could be the introduction of performance conflicts when two or more virtual applications sharing the same physical resources all hit their peak usage point at the same time. This can cause overall performance to decrease as the virtual servers contend for the same physical resources. You need to consider how your servers and applications are used when determining which resources to virtualize and combine onto a single physical server.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A VIRTUALIZATION SOLUTION?

The most important consideration in selecting a virtualization solution is the management tools and resources available to work with in your environment. As the hypervisor technology matures and is no longer significantly different from one vendor to the next, the ability to manage the ever-increasing number of virtual resources will determine the success of virtualization in your organization. VMware is giving away the basic virtualization technology, and Microsoft includes it free or at a very low cost with Windows Server. The marketing is rapidly moving in the direction of vendors differentiating themselves in the tools they provide for monitoring, managing, and making the most efficient use of virtualized resources. These tools should include the ability to manage a mixture of physical and virtual resources to support the ability to migrate physical resources to virtual ones at your own pace. Your focus should be on which vendor provides the best management tools for your business and IT environment.

Virtualization vendors are also moving toward solutions that put all IT resources into a single resource pool. These "enterprise virtualization" solutions combine all the resources that can be virtualized - CPUs, memory, disk storage, networking, and applications - into one large pool of computing resources that can be allocated as needed.

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