When I was in Winnipeg, I had the good fortune to meet Rodney Buike at the Winnipeg IT Pro UserGroup. I also killed his Dell Laptop harddrive (which he fixed by smacking it on the desk a few times) and shared some pints of the local Fort Gary brew while debating virtualization technologies and various other topics. Rodney is a Microsoft MVP for Windows Server and the publisher of http://thelazyadmin.com (Great Site!). He also provides content for http://msexchange.org and is working on a book on Virtual Server 2005.
He took up my challenge to provide content for the Canadian IT Pro team blog as a guest blogger – so please welcome him and his first post:
Virtualization technologies have been around for years. Vmware was one of the first to begin selling virtualization software in 1999 and in early 2003 Microsoft purchased virtual machine technologies from a company called Connectix. This purchase led to the development of Virtual PC 2004 and Virtual Server 2005.
In the past, when a user needed to use or test an application on a certain operating system (OS), the user would require a computer on which the OS could be installed which would allow them to test the application. Having to test the application on a number of different OS would require the hardware and time to install the desired operating system.
At the same time systems were becoming more and more powerful and utilized less and less. Today’s multi-GHz and multi-core CPUs, large hard disks and abundance of cheap memory provide more power than most users require. Typically, today’s computers run at about 10-15 percent utilization. By leveraging virtualization technologies, users can harness the extra power and reduce the amount of physical hardware required and instead, install multiple virtual machines with whichever combination of operating systems and applications they require.
The benefits of virtualization are easy to see. Software developers no longer need multiple physical machines, or ghosted images in order to test their applications in different operating system environments, students don’t need a pile of donated computers in order to build a lab environment and get hands on experience with new technologies and IT departments can benefit by consolidating servers and migrating legacy systems to new hardware.
Corporate system administrators can reduce costs by running multiple virtual machines, performing different tasks, on a single physical machine. By doing this, costs are reduced for both the physical hardware requirements as well as the operating system licensing needs. This also allows system administrators to utilize all the power available to them in a physical machine. For example, if an application running on a physical machine only utilizes 15% of machine resources, it would be possible to run 6 virtual machines at 90% utilization. This is a much more economical use of hardware resources.
Today more and more IT departments are looking to leverage the befits of virtualization in an effort to consolidate servers. Improvements in Virtual Server 2005 R2, such as virtual server host clustering, make the idea of virtualizing the corporate infrastructure more acceptable and appealing. If you are (or are not) using virtualization technologies drop me a line with a comment. I am very interested in hearing your reasons why (or why not) and your experiences.