Why Virtualization Is Becoming Strategic

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-05-19 Print this article Print

Companies start out to save power and space but find out that a well-tuned hypervisor can do much more than that.

LAS VEGAS -- VMware CTO Steve Herrod will explain in a keynote address at EMC World May 19 that while most organizations originally set out to utilize virtualization technologies in their IT systems to consolidate servers and save power draw, virtualization almost invariably becomes a strategic asset for the organization.

"What we've seen is that most companies get started with some simple goals in mind, but the direction you go is much more of a strategic architecture, where you really find you can base your whole IT architecture in an easier-to-manage, much safer way, when you adopt it whole-heartedly," Herrod told eWEEK in an interview.

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Herrod said that in his address he will show all the "rhyming phases" of virtualization in a typical IT system, "where you go from 'consolidate,' to the next phase of adoption, which we call 'aggregate,'" Herrod said.

"This is what we do with our truly virtual infrastructure, where you bring a set of machines together, and we do 'V-motion' across them, treating a collection of [data storage] pools -- we call it a resource pool -- but it's a collection of horsepower, essentially, which we can then flexibly dole out to the machines," Herrod said.

This is the kind of capability VMware's new VI-3 (Virtual Infrastructure 3) product does, Herrod said. "We refer to it as 'single-machine partitioning,'" he said.

Sum Better than the Parts

To take this to the next phase of adoption, the user takes these virtualized machines and treat them as a cluster of resources, Herrod said.

"It's like the sum being better than each of the parts individually," Herrod said, "by allowing you to transparently failover between machines if one should go down, and to do load-balancing during the course of the day as the workload changes."

VMware recently announced a "world-record" performance of Microsoft Exchange on top of this virtual infrastructure, demonstrating the company's overall strategy to show that its hypervisor is a safe and efficient way to run any kind of enterprise application, Herrod said.

"We focused quite a bit on the performance and availability characteristics of Exchange," Herrod said. "Internally, we've just converted our whole company to running our Exchange server within virtual machines, so we're really getting some great experience there."

Herrod said that most new enterprise applications "can't scale to take advantage of all the cores that are coming on systems. As a result, the only way to take advantage of multi-core -- especially as you get up into the quad core -- is to run multiple virtual machines on it. That's what you can do with Exchange as well," Herrod said.

"It [Exchange] stops scaling at between 3 and 6 processors," he said. "If you've got 16 cores, you can really use it more efficiently and serve more of your users for a good return on investment."

A well-tuned hypervisor can coordinate the parallel processing of multi-core chips and schedule virtual machines to simultaneously use all the resources of the machine, Herrod said.

EMC World begins May 19 and continues through May 22 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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