Virtualization 101

17 Dec

I received an email from Microsoft this morning telling me to register on their Free Virtualization Event in San Francisco, or TechNet Events Presents: Virtualization 101. It just happens that I’m sitting inside a Starbucks in San Francisco near a rainy Fisherman’s Wharf as I type this. I took this as a sign to post an entry on the subject.

If you don’t already have an idea of what virtualization is, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re a college undergrad studying business, computer science, engineering, etc., already in the workforce, or whatever other category you might fall under, virtualization is not a trend you cannot afford to be unaware of.

The idea behind virtualization is, as the term itself might imply, the virtual creation of something that might otherwise have been a physical reality.

The initial intentions behind virtualization—in the tech world—were to migrate physical servers to virtual servers (a.k.a. server consolidation) in an attempt to save energy, utilize space, and reduce the amount of administration on those servers thereby increasing IT efficiency, high availability, and “enable business agility,” according to Edwin Yuen, a Senior Product Manager within Microsoft.

I understand how abstract all of this sounds if you have never before worked with computers enough to be exposed to the concept, so here’s my attempt at simplifying the concept:

  1. Virtualization software emulates your hardware such that you can have multiple operating systems (OS) running on a single physical computer.
  2. Each guest OS runs as if it has available all the resources of the host computer, including processing power, memoiry, applications, etc.
  3. The reality of things is, however, that all of the above mentioned resources are being allocated ONLY AS NEEDED in a way that the virtual machines do not impede each other in any way.

Now, go back and reread the 3rd bullet point please because that part is probably most applicable to you as a user. This concept is huge! Computers, like the human brain, are largely inefficient and suck much more energy than is required by their tasks. Virtualization is a solution which allows for users to use several different applications as if each application has its own operating system.

Think of virtualization as a commercial plane. Imagine a reality where we each had our own private jets to take us where we wanted to go and consider how inefficient that would be. Virtualization, in this metaphor, is basically the commercial plane. Each has its own specific destination but has the capacity to take x amount of people there, and a result, is much more efficient than the alternative.

That was an imperfect metaphor, but I hope it gets the idea across just the same.

According to a survey considering environments containing more than 50 virtual machines (which rules out most small businesses anyways), it was discovered that the primary problem with virtualization is insufficient server RAM.

But wait, doesn’t that mean we should wait until exploring this option and applying it to our businesses until this problem is resolved?

Hell no!

Imagine all the money you could be saving with these virtual servers (assuming you have a decent amount of tasks you’re performing with different applications). According to the same survey, each physical computer is equivalent to more than 10 operating systems!

It doesn’t take an industry genius to see that virtualization has a huge future ahead of it. My advice is that you at the very least consider this opportunity to scale your performance and do some of your own research.

Try the Windows Azure free trial and take the Cloud Power Assessment to get a custom report for your business.

Open your eyes and invest in the cloud.


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Posted by on December 17, 2010 in Business/Technology


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