Server virtualization has become an essential technology for businesses looking to optimize their IT infrastructure. With server virtualization, a single physical server can run multiple virtual servers or instances. It’s a great solution if you are looking for managed it services.
This allows companies to reduce the number of physical servers needed, while still maintaining compute capacity. The growth of server virtualization represents a major shift in how companies architect and manage their IT environments.
In the past, businesses would deploy an individual physical server for each application or workload. This traditional approach led to server sprawl, underutilized resources, and increased costs for hardware, software, power, and cooling. Server virtualization changes this by enabling multiple virtual servers to run on a single physical host. The virtual servers share the underlying compute resources of the physical host through a hypervisor layer.
The virtualization software allows each virtual machine to have its own operating system and run applications independently. This provides better workload isolation and security between virtual servers. At the same time, it enables dynamic allocation of resources based on application demands. As a result, server virtualization can drive higher server utilization rates and provide greater IT agility.
With these benefits, it's no surprise that server virtualization adoption has grown rapidly. According to various estimates, over 75% of enterprise workloads are now running on virtual machines. Leading vendors like VMware, Microsoft, and Red Hat provide mature virtualization platforms that are widely deployed across on-premise and cloud environments. As companies modernize their application architectures, server virtualization will continue to play a key role in driving efficiency and flexibility.
Demystifying Server Virtualization
What is Server Virtualization?
Server virtualization refers to the process of abstraction between physical hardware and the software running on it. It allows you to run multiple virtual machine instances on a single physical server. Each virtual machine (VM) runs its own operating system and applications as if it were on dedicated compute resources.
The software that enables virtualization on the server is called a hypervisor or virtual machine monitor (VMM). The hypervisor creates and runs the virtual machines, allowing them to share the underlying physical compute resources. Common hypervisor platforms include VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and open-source options like KVM.
How Server Virtualization Works
Here is a step-by-step look at how server virtualization works:
- The hypervisor software is installed directly on the physical server hardware or the host operating system.
- The hypervisor partitions the physical resources of the server, including CPU, memory, storage and network.
- Virtual machines are then created which are assigned compute resources by the hypervisor based on configuration.
- Each VM has a guest operating system and applications installed. The guest OS runs on virtual hardware mapped by the hypervisor.
- The hypervisor schedules access to physical resources for each VM, enabling them to share the underlying host.
- Even though VMs share physical resources, the hypervisor keeps them isolated from each other.
- The hypervisor provides VM management functions like live migration, snapshots, resource scaling, and high availability.
- End users interact with each VM as a standalone server, not knowing the underlying physical host.
- The administrator can optimize hardware utilization by controlling VM placement and resources.
This separation between physical and virtual resources is the core concept that enables the flexibility and efficiency of server virtualization. Companies can reduce hardware costs while improving productivity and responsiveness through virtualization.
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Key Benefits of Server Virtualization
One of the biggest drivers for server virtualization is cost reduction. Consolidating workloads onto fewer physical servers means lower capital costs for hardware acquisition and maintenance. Server virtualization requires less rack space, cabling, and ancillary equipment. It also leads to decreased electricity usage and cooling requirements in the data center.
Efficient Resource Utilization
Server virtualization enables much higher utilization of computing resources. Rather than siloed servers running at 5-15% utilization, virtualization allows you to maximize workload density. The hypervisor allocates resources dynamically based on real-time needs. This eliminates resource overprovisioning and stranding.
Faster Server Provisioning and Deployment
Provisioning new servers can be cut down from weeks to minutes with virtualization. Creating and booting virtual machines takes only moments. This agility speeds up development cycles, testing, and business continuity. New environments can be spun up as needed for any workload.
Improved Disaster Recovery
Virtualization facilitates faster and more reliable disaster recovery processes. Snapshots allow you to instantly roll back VMs to previous restore points. Backups are easier with virtual disk files. Live migration of VMs enables continuous operations during outages.
Simplified IT Management
Hypervisors allow centralized management of all VMs from a single console. Automation reduces repetitive administrative tasks. Virtualization improves compliance and configuration control across environments.
Enhanced Business Continuity
By reducing downtime risks, virtualization ensures higher service levels and business continuity. Features like live VM migration and high availability clustering maximize uptime. Planned downtimes are minimized by rapidly migrating workloads across hosts.
Virtualized infrastructure can be easily scaled up (or down) to accommodate business needs. Adding resources like vCPUs, memory, and storage to a VM is a simple change. Scaling capacity by adding hosts is seamless. This level of elasticity is difficult to achieve with physical servers.
Extended Life of Legacy Applications
Server virtualization provides a secure path to continue running legacy apps that require outdated server operating systems or hardware. The apps can run in isolated VMs, avoiding disruption to other workloads. This protects past investments while buying time to eventually decommission legacy systems.
Server Virtualization Powers Growth for Technology Services Firm
Xperteks is a rapidly growing technology services company providing managed IT solutions to businesses around the world. As the company expanded, its physical server infrastructure was straining to keep pace. Lengthy procurement cycles and capacity limitations were impacting client delivery timelines.
"We were constantly playing catch-up on buying new servers whenever we signed major new customers," recalls Stefan Hryszko, CIO. "It could take 4-6 weeks to get new infrastructure deployed, delaying project rollouts."
Xperteks adopted a comprehensive server virtualization strategy led by Wiktor Moroz, Service Manager. By leveraging industry-leading virtualization platforms, the company was able to consolidate client workloads onto shared physical hosts.
"The flexibility of virtual infrastructure gives us the agility to spin up new client environments in minutes instead of weeks," explains Moroz. "We can deploy more services faster, which directly improves customer satisfaction."
Beyond agility, virtualization has provided tangible cost reductions. "We've been able to double the density of workloads per physical server," notes Gene Mobley, VP of Sales. "Virtualization creates cost savings that we can pass along to our customers to stay competitive."
Virtualization represents a critical step in the company's growth. "The scalability of virtualized infrastructure gives us a stable foundation for the future," says Marcial Velez, President & CEO. "As our customers' needs evolve, we can respond rapidly without big capital investments. Virtualization lets us focus resources on innovation and service delivery."
The ability to maximize resources while delivering robust and flexible solutions has proven that virtualization was the right choice for Xperteks' clients and internal teams alike.
Key Considerations with Server Virtualization
Assessing Current Infrastructure
Before virtualizing, audit your existing servers and workloads. Evaluate utilization rates and bottleneck areas that virtualization could improve. Assess application architectures and dependence on physical resources.
Some monolithic apps may be difficult to virtualize. Weigh virtualization readiness alongside business needs to prioritize which workloads to migrate first. Build a roadmap customized for your infrastructure.
Understanding the Costs
Server virtualization requires an initial investment in hypervisor software and high-performance hardware. However, it can generate major long-term cost savings from consolidating servers. Calculate potential efficiency gains in hardware, staffing, real estate and energy costs.
Weigh these long-term savings against upfront licensing, training and deployment costs to build a comprehensive business case. The breakeven point depends on the environment, but often arrives within 12-24 months post-implementation.
Planning for Migration
Migrating workloads should be conducted incrementally using a phased approach. Begin with less critical Tier 2 applications to gain experience before virtualizing Tier 1 mission-critical systems. Always test extensively first through proofs of concept and pilot deployments.
Applications with hardware affinity or incompatible licensing may require re-architecting before virtualizing. Develop detailed rollback plans in case issues arise during cutover events. With careful planning and testing, most legacy physical environments can be successfully transformed through virtualization.
Adopting server virtualization requires careful analysis of workloads, costs, and organizational readiness. With adequate planning and training, most organizations can deploy virtualization to enhance IT agility, efficiency and reliability. Virtualization has become a modern IT cornerstone enabling organizations to innovate faster and control costs.
Getting Started with Server Virtualization
The numerous benefits outlined in this article make a compelling case for deploying server virtualization. The technology enables businesses to reduce costs, maximize resources, and gain flexibility. As computing continues evolving towards cloud and containers, virtualization provides the bridge for legacy systems.
Looking ahead, expect growth in hybrid virtualized infrastructure spanning on-prem and cloud. Hyperconverged platforms will simplify deployment and management. And containerization will provide lightweight abstraction as a complement to traditional virtual machines.
Companies today need an IT environment that is dynamic, resilient and cost-optimized to stay competitive. Server virtualization delivers on these demands. It empowers organizations to allocate resources efficiently as needs change. With a forward-looking virtualization strategy, businesses can readily adapt and innovate.
Ready to explore how server virtualization can transform your IT operations? The experts at Xperteks have helped numerous enterprises modernize their infrastructures through successful virtualization deployments.
Contact us today for a consultation on building a high-velocity IT environment that scales to propel your business growth into the future. We look forward to showing you the immense possibilities with server virtualization.