Virtualization is the foundation of cloud computing—what are some of the specific benefits it can bring to your organization?
Many IT organizations deploy servers that are only running at a fraction of their capacity, often because they are dedicating their physical server to a specific application. This is usually an inefficient mechanism because there is an excess capacity that is not being consumed, which leads to higher operating costs.
In efforts to drive higher capacity utilization and reduce costs, virtualization was created. This article will provide an overview of virtualization and its key components and explain five of the (many) benefits your organization could enjoy through virtualization.
What is virtualization?
Virtualization uses software to create an abstraction layer over the physical hardware. In doing so, it creates a virtual compute system, known as virtual machines (VMs). This allows organizations to run multiple virtual computers, operating systems, and applications on a single physical server. Simply put, it’s a more efficient use of the physical computer hardware; this, in turn, provides a greater return on a company’s investment.
See the follow video for more of a dive into virtualization:
What is a virtual machine (VM)?
In the simplest terms possible, a virtual machine (VM) is a virtual representation of a physical computer. As mentioned above, virtualization allows an organization to create multiple virtual machines—each with their own operating system (OS) and applications—on a single physical machine.
A virtual machine can’t interact directly with a physical computer, however. Instead, it needs a lightweight software layer called a hypervisor to coordinate with the physical hardware upon which it runs.
What is a hypervisor?
The hypervisor is essential to virtualization—it's a thin software layer that allows multiple operating systems to run alongside each other and share the same physical computing resources. These operating systems come as the aforementioned virtual machines (VMs)—virtual representations of a physical computer—and the hypervisor assigns each VM its own portion of the underlying computing power, memory, and storage. This prevents the VMs from interfering with each other.
Five benefits of virtualization
Virtualizing your environment can increase scalability while simultaneously reducing expenses, and the following details a just a few of the many benefits that virtualization can bring to your organization:
1. Slash your IT expenses
Utilizing a non-virtualized environment can be inefficient because when you are not consuming the application on the server, the compute is sitting idle and can't be used for other applications. When you virtualize an environment, that single physical server transforms into many virtual machines. These virtual machines can have different operating systems and run different applications while still all being hosted on the single physical server.
Through the consolidation of the applications onto virtualized environments, you’ll be able consume fewer physical customers, helping you spend significantly less money on servers.
2. Reduce downtime and enhance resiliency
When a disaster affects a physical server, someone is responsible for replacing or fixing it—this could take hours, or even days. With a virtualized environment, it’s easy to provision and deploy, allowing you to replicate or clone the virtual machine that’s been affected. The recovery process would take mere minutes—as opposed to the hours it would take to provision and set up a new physical server—significantly enhancing the resiliency of the environment.
3. Increase efficiency and productivity
With fewer servers, your IT teams will be able to spend less time maintaining the physical hardware. You’ll be able to install, update, and maintain the environment across all the virtual machines on the server instead of going through the laborious and tedious process of applying the updates server-by-server. Less time dedicated to maintaining the environment increases your team’s efficiency and productivity.
4. Control independence and DevOps
Since the virtualized environment is segmented into virtual machines, your developers can quickly spin up a virtual machine without impacting a production environment. This is ideal for Dev/Test, as the developer can quickly clone the virtual machine and run a test on the environment.
For example, if a new software patch has been released, someone can clone the virtual machine and apply the latest software update, test the environment, and then pull it into their production application. This increases the speed and agility of an application.
5. Move to be more green-friendly (organizational and environmental)
When you are able to cut down on the number of physical servers you’re using, it’ll lead to a reduction in the amount of power being consumed. This has two green benefits:
- It reduces expenses for the business, and that money can be reinvested elsewhere.
- It reduces the carbon footprint of the data center.
Virtualization and IBM Cloud
Virtualization is a powerful tool that helps relieve administrative overhead while increasing cost optimization, scalability, and efficiency. Despite being created decades ago, virtualization continues to be a catalyst for companies’ IT strategies. The importance of virtualization is being exponentially accelerated as companies look at their IT modernization journey, and the benefits listed here are just the tip of the iceberg.
IBM Cloud offers a full complement of cloud-based virtualization solutions, spanning public cloud services through to private and hybrid cloud offerings. You can use it to create and run virtual infrastructure and also take advantage of services ranging from cloud-based AI to VMware workload migration with IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions.
Sign up today for an IBM Cloud account.