When considering the possibilities of server virtualization for your business, it’s important to understand basic relevant terms, such as the following six.
- Server virtualization—This term refers to the use of software to divide one physical server into multiple “virtual” environments that are isolated from each other. These environments may be called “virtual private servers,” “guests,” emulations,” “containers,” or “instances.”
- Virtual machine—This refers to the “boxing up” of an application with the operating system it needs to operate. Virtual machines can be run on the same physical host server as other virtual machines using different operating systems. The virtual machine is using a virtual hardware layer, so it’s not affected by the OS of the host server. The virtual machine, which is essentially a file, can be moved as a whole from one server to another.
- Storage Area Network—SANs enable servers to access consolidated block-level data on storage devices (e.g., disk arrays, tape libraries) so that the operating systems perceive the devices as locally attached.
- Infrastructure—This is ALL of the elements involved in the delivery of IT services to users—hardware, software, firmware, cabling, user stations, etc. The impact of server virtualization should be considered for every area of infrastructure early in the planning stage because infrastructure efficiency is critical in enabling server virtualization to increase scalability, improve availability, and decrease cost, while maintaining application requirements.
- Agility—With regards to IT, this essentially refers to how fast customer requests are processed. Critical to this measurement is the cycle time for provisioning of services. (“Thin provisioning” refers to provisioning on a “just-enough” and “just-in-time” basis.)
- Security—For virtual servers, this term applies not only to the level of privacy and protection (from theft, loss, or misuse) that is provided for a company’s applications and data; it also involves ensuring that applications are kept separate within the company’s system.
- Familiarize yourself with the jargon of virtual servers.
- Understand the essence of how virtual servers and virtual machines work.
- Carefully analyze the effects on existing infrastructure of server virtualization.
- Pay close attention to virtual server performance in critical areas such as agility and security.