There are three different types of virtualisation available.
Hardware is the most common and is used in IT departments in a company as well as in the data centers. The server’s hardware is virtualised thus allowing us to be able to run different OS (operating systems) and different applications simultaneously on the same hardware. This allows us to do server consolidation. And the benefits are obvious (only listing the critical ones below…and less cost is a major advantage across all of these.
- Less number of servers required for the same number of applications.
- Less power consumption.
- Less maintenance overhead for the IT staff.
- More resource utilization.
- Easier (and faster) to add more capacity.
- Patch management and upgrades become easier.
- DRP (Disaster Recovery Planning) becomes easier. Without any interruption to the service, one can backup and even migrate entire virtual environments.
Sometimes called VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) since that is the term that major vendors use for desktop virtualisation. But this is not limited to just major vendors such as VMWare. Citrix Systems has a similar offering called the XenDesktop. What this means is that your end user’s computer’s data – their OS (operating system), their applications, their downloads, their preferences etc. are all stored in a VM (virtual machine) in a hosted environment which could be hosted either by the company’s IT in-house or hosted in a data center. The virtual machines are then managed in one single place for all the users in a department / company and the computing environment is delivered remotely to the end users. The one reason why the adoption has been a bit slow on this front is because unlike server consolidation (hardware virtualisation), desktop virtualisation requires working across a lot of different organisations within the company and it impacts the end users a lot more during the stages of putting the plan in place and executing it.
The benefits are:
- Easier upgrades and patch management.
- IT Desktop support process becomes much more easier.
- You can easily add more users as your organization grows and provisioning of new applications and Virtual machines takes minutes and not days / weeks.
- Better resource utilisation and less power consumption.
- Easier recovery management.
Consolidating servers as well as the desktops is all great but what happens to the storage requirements then? Won’t the storage requirements also grow by leaps and bounds? This is the next question that you are going to get from your clients – internal or external. This also means that since everything is in one place, one also needs to have a proper plan for disaster recovery and business continuity. So what does storage virtualisation mean then? It means we would then need to make multiple storage devices appear as a common shared media. A proper back-up and restore strategy needs to be formed as well then and a proper DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) needs to be done – both local and site failures need to be accounted for.