Definition: A Virtual Server is an instance of a Computer Operating System running within a container on Simulated Hardware.
Server virtualisation hides direct physical access to the host computers hardware and instead, makes available an abstract layer that shares the hardware access amongst all of the guest Operating Systems. This allows you to install multiple, isolated “guest” operating systems on a single physical “host” server with the host server’s resources (like CPU, Memory, Networking, Disk, etc.) allocated out to the guest servers as Simulated Hardware.
Although this technology has been around for many decades, is has not been until relatively recently that it has been adopted for mainstream use in business. Gartner has reported that around 80% of x86 Server workloads are now virtualised (ref: Gartner), with both Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware being in the “Magic Quadrant” (ref: Gartner) of technology that are leading in both vision and execution.
My 5 top reasons to implement server virtualisation:
- Cost savings
- Lower energy consumption of a single server compared to multiple servers
- Fewer physical servers means less hardware maintenance and support costs
- Less downtime with virtualisation unlocking high availability and failover technologies
- More efficient hardware utilisation
- Allocate resources to each individual virtual server as required
- Over allocate resources like memory to allow servers to access more resource during peak usage
- Dynamically expand or shrink virtual hard drive sizes as needed without re-booting the server
- Hardware independent (no vendor lock-in), flexible provisioning
- Virtual servers are not dependant on specific hardware drivers, so upgrades and server migrations are easier to implement
- Server can be provisioned very quickly without having to install a complex list of hardware and software drivers
- P2V (physical to virtual) migrations make hardware upgrades easier, faster and less risky
- Host server upgrades can be done with zero downtime using live migration
- Easier to backup and for DR (disaster recovery)
- Backups (and restores) run more efficiently with fast server resources
- An identical set of hardware is not required for Disaster Recovery
- Restore and DR testing is easier
- Faster server provisioning
- Server virtualisation allows for elastic capacity, making it much easier to allocate additional resources to a server when needed
- You can quickly clone a golden image or master template to get a server up and running in minutes
- Easily create and add an isolated virtual network for DR testing or virtual machine isolation
If you haven’t been introduced to virtualisation yet, then you should start taking advantage of the benefits that aren’t possible or available in the physical server world.
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