Virtual infrastructures are, fundamentally,based on virtual machines. Each virtual machine essentially is a
container that encapsulates an operating system and associated application workload; it is completely isolated from neighboring virtual machines and independent from the underlying server, storage, and networking hardware.
Multiple virtual machines can safely share the same server hardware platform, even if they are running different operating systems, and can be easily transferred across physical platforms regardless of hardware differences. IT administrators can add new hardware technologies without wrestling with compatibility issues or upgrading an entire software stack. Server hardware thus can be used to its full capacity, then easily added or re-provisioned to meet variable business demand.
SHow an organization prepares for change often makes the difference between improving its competitive position or getting left behind.tecHnology briefenabling buSineSS agility through virtualizationSucceeding in today s business environ-ment is all about agility. Organizations turn to technology to stay agile and pro-active in the face of new challenges, but until recently, many technologies have not proven to be very agile themselves.Why? In too many of today s data centers, applications are coupled tightly to specific operating systems, which are in turn tied to specific, often custom-ized, hardware. Oftentimes, it is impos-sible for multiple operating systems to coexist on the same server, and for mul-tiple applications to share the same op-erating system without conflict. Many companies thus find themselves bur-dened with thousands of servers, most running a single application. Adding server capacity requires long hardware acquisition lead times, and lengthy test-ing and certification processes, all of which hinder IT responsiveness. The alternative deploying excess server capacity in advance is a costly solution that risks obsolescence striking before that capacity is actually needed. Manag-ing server sprawl is also expensive and resource intensive.Te lack of scalability and flexibil-ity in traditional hardware configura-tions is why organizations are turning to server virtualization. Virtualization promises to make the data center more responsive to business needs. When vir-tualization is combined with the break-through performance, energy efficiency, and reliability of Intel s new Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor-based servers, it helps organizations scale without large increases to operating costs.The Power of VirTualizaTionVirtualization transforms yesterday s rigid, complex infrastructure of indi-vidual servers, storage, and network hardware into a flexible virtual resource pool that IT can slice, dice, grow, and shrink dynamically to respond to new challenges, and to take a lead role on new business opportunities.Virtual infrastructures are, funda-mentally, based on virtual machines. Each virtual machine essentially is a container that encapsulates an operat-ing system and associated application workload; it is completely isolated from neighboring virtual machines and in-dependent from the underlying server, storage, and networking hardware. Multiple virtual machines can safely share the same server hardware plat-form, even if they are running different operating systems, and can be easily transferred across physical platforms regardless of hardware differences. IT administrators can add new hardware technologies without wrestling with compatibility issues or upgrading an entire software stack. Server hardware thus can be used to its full capacity, then easily added or re-provisioned to meet variable business demand.Shared storage provides economies of scale for the virtual infrastructure by allowing scalable access to common storage arrays without constant hard-ware upgrades. Shared storage devices ease the creation, provisioning, and management of storage resources, en-abling IT to more easily meet business needs via resource pools in a virtual in-frastructure.Enterprise system management tech-nologies help streamline provisioning and management of the virtual infrastruc-ture and underlying hardware compo- nents. Altiris Server Management Suite brings the management of both physical and virtual servers into a single console to help simplify and automate key functions including deployment, asset manage-ment, patch management, monitoring, and compliance. Advanced management capabilities offered through VMware Vir-tual Center such as centralized manage-ment of physical and virtual resources, live virtual machine migration, dynamic data center resource optimization, and system backup facilities gives IT the ability to optimize utilization of existing resources and improve overall operation-al efficiency. Resource re-provisioning to meet variable-demand loads can be ad-dressed on-the-fly, and new IT services can be added in minutes instead of hours or days. Companies like Jackson Walker LLP, for example, have been able to enhance IT scalability, manageability, and re-sponsiveness dramatically by consoli-dating multiple physical servers into a few that are then divided into multiple independent virtual machines.less Time, wasTe, CosT Recently, we had to create three new servers for our multi-tiered Ringtail Le-gal litigation support system, explains Steve McHargue, CIO for Jackson Walker, one of the largest law firms in Texas. Thanks to our Dell and VMware virtualization solution, rather than hav-ing to spend several days procuring and provisioning three new pieces of server hardware, we were able to provision all of those servers in less than 30 minutes. We installed the application that after-noon, and it has worked marvelously. Jackson Walker also consolidated its storage infrastructure using a stor-age-area network based on a Dell/EMC CX500 Fibre Channel array. We had too many servers with huge direct-at-tached disk drives that were only 50 per-cent full, states McHargue. We weren t Untitled DocumenttecHnology briefgetting very good disk utilization by having a lot of servers with dedicated storage that wasn t networked. With our Dell/EMC SAN in place, there is far less waste and a lot less investment required to procure the amount of disk space we require. And we know that if an appli-cation needs more storage over time, we can easily scale to meet that need. infiniTely sCalableVirtual infrastructures can dramatically increase IT agility by enabling IT to cost-effectively scale its computing, storage, and networking resources to support dynamic business requirements.Virtual infrastructure makes it more practical to build advanced, scaled-out IT infrastructure by adding appli-cations, standards-based servers such as Dell PowerEdge servers pow-ered by Dual-Core Intel Xeon pro-cessors and storage quickly and incre-mentally as they re needed. This avoids costly scale-up strategies based on proprietary and expensive, CPU-dense SMP servers that are often over-provi-sioned to allow room for future growth. A scale-up strategy can be more costly and inefficient because it requires or-ganizations to overspend precious IT budgets today in anticipation of com-puting capacity needs tomorrow, and often locks them into technology that becomes obsolete before it is needed. Scaling out enables a much more ef-fcient pay-as-you-grow strategy that helps deliver sustained, incremental performance improvements at consis-tent, competitive prices. The other, often overlooked, attri-bute of virtualization that contributes significantly to business agility is the power of encapsulating complex server/software configurations into a file using VMware software to create a virtual ap-pliance.Virtual appliances are preconfig-ured software applications, such as a database server or a network firewall, encapsulated in a virtual machine that can be run on any server that is running VMware s virtualization software. It is not a stretch to say that this approach might fundamentally change the way we think about computer configuration and software distribution. Here s why: organizations, when purchasing soft-ware, often spend more on professional services than they do on the software it-self because of the complexity of config-uring server software (OS, middleware, applications), and then replicating and transferring that workload from one server to another. With virtualization, all the complexity of a server can be captured into a file that will run on any server that s running the associated vir-tualization software.Deploying new services with vir-tual machines takes minutes instead of hours or days that are typically spent installing and configuring an operating system and application software.ParTners for ProgressDell s commitment to standards-based virtualization architectures and long-standing relationships with industry leaders Altiris, EMC, Intel, and VMware offer customers integrated, scalable, and reliable virtualization solutions that are best suited for their individual needs. By bringing together the key components servers, virtualization infrastructure soft-ware, management, and storage these partners deliver a tightly integrated solu-tion that helps address top IT challenges. By offering a single source for proven, market-leading virtual infrastructure and comprehensive services to assess, design, implement, and support, Dell re-duces the complexity of implementing a virtual environment. Customers can rest assured that they are on solid ground and backed by trusted partners when taking the first essential steps to tomor-row s virtual data center today.For more information, please visit www.virtualization.ziffdavis.com. n Virtualization is one of the three pillars that will take IT from yesterday s frag-mented, brittle data center architecture to the efficient, highly automated data center of tomorrow. The other two pillars are management standards and an enterprise resource directory. management standards: Today, every resource manager, such as a virtual ma-chine monitor, has its own management console. As such, the adoption and imple-mentation of new resources generally requires the adoption and implementation of a new management console. To achieve true flexibility, automation, and operat-ing efficiency, tomorrow s data center will require management standards that allow resources to be managed in a consistent way from a common interface. Achieving a truly automated, scalable data center will necessarily depend on standardization, rather than proprietary technologies, including adherence to evolving industry management standards such as the SMASH CLP standard for command-line interface scripts, and WS-Management and CIM-XML standards for accessing and exchanging management information across the enterprise.Standards such as these also provide interface stability. Key to ensuring this stability over time is to keep the interface between the workload and physical com-puting resources stable, even as elements on either side of the interface change.enterprise resource Directory: With virtualization and common manage-ment standards in place, the next step is to create a single comprehensive enter-prise resource directory for all rules, relationships, and resources, instead of the fragmented pockets of knowledge found across dozens of products and manage-ment tools in today s data center. A single directory will be the key that enables dynamic, automated, policy-based resource allocation to become a reality.Three sTePs To The auTomaTeD DaTa CenTer