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What’s Driving Virtualization Now? Housekeeping…

What’s Driving Virtualization Now?  Housekeeping…

Trend #4: Maintenance

Just like your car can’t change its own oil without a mechanic; computers can’t perform their own maintenance without interaction from an administrator.  Remember, computers will only do what you tell it to.  Every server requires care and regular maintenance to help ensure reliable operations, secure application delivery and data integrity.

Some of the standard or more common systems administration tasks include:

  • monitoring hardware status and fitness
  • replacing defective hardware components or ones that require upgrading
  • installing operating system (OS) and application software updates, patches and new versions when deemed necessary
  • monitoring of critical server resources such as memory, processor utilization and disk space
  • backing up server data and applications to storage media for security and redundancy, and disaster preparedness measures.

As you can imagine and have already likely experienced, these efforts are pretty labor intensive. As truly qualified system administrators don’t come cheap, and unlike programmers in more recent years, which can be available in less expensive offshore locations; system administrators are usually located very near the servers they manage, as they need to access the physical hardware more often than not.  For this reason, as well as the steady increase in server numbers globally, the job market for system administrators has been good.

As the increasing effort to control operations cost increases, virtualization offers the opportunity to reduce overall system administration costs by reducing the overall number of machines that need to be taken care of, physically.  Keep in mind though, many of the tasks associated with system administration (OS and application patching, etc as above) continue in the virtualized environment; it’s the reduction of physical server maintenance that is migrated by their virtual existence.  Virtualization can reduce system administration requirements by as much as 50% per virtualized server.  This makes virtualization a preferred option in controlling the increasing cost of operations personnel.

Virtualization helps to control the amount of system administration effort required for hardware, but it doesn’t help very much at all with the amount of system administration necessary for guest operating systems and applications.  In summary, virtualization lessens system administration, but doesn’t make it go away.

Looking back at the four trends in this series, you can see why virtualization is becoming so popular, let alone the key technology that seems to be driving IT initiatives globally.  The exponential power and capabilities in growth of computers, the conversion to automated processes versus manual work, the increasing cost to power large datacenters due to the amount of physical computers, and the high personnel cost to manage those systems all call for a less expensive way to run datacenters.  More efficient methods of running datacenters are also becoming critical because the traditional methods of service delivery are becoming cost prohibitive. Virtualization seems to be the obvious solutions the these four main issues we are now facing.

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