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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Virtualization Beyond Consolidation

A funny thing has happened on the path to virtualization Nirvana: We’ve stopped, or at least greatly slowed, our progress toward highly virtualized data centers.  Gartner says that just 16% of data center loads are virtualized, and our own survey shows ambitions for virtualization are actually backtracking.  “We don’t know what the savings are. We just know they’re there,” is a common response.  At the same time, our InformationWeek Analytics survey found that 35% of respondents say they expect to virtualize less than 25% of their data centers by 2011.

The ability to easily generate virtual machines tends to lead to a willingness to do more, and soon the IT manager finds virtual machine sprawl on his hands.  In some cases, overallocation shortchanges operations elsewhere.  Then as the number of virtual machines per host server increases, I/O problems start to develop.

Meantime, third parties had already spotted the issue.  Xsigo, with its I/O Director, and others seek to virtualize the I/O and move it out of the hypervisor’s virtual switch onto a hardware device, where packets are separated into their respective storage and network destinations, relieving the host server of work.

As we shall see, management tools are paramount once the virtual environment is generated.

When Moon Son, director of IT infrastructure at Orchard Supply Hardware, a California chain of 91 stores, became head of the company’s data center in 2006, he realized immediately he would have to rebuild from the ground up around virtualization.  He virtualized 13 host servers, and in the end, tripled the number of production systems to meet expanded company goals.

Posted on 08/21