How to Obtain the Four Benefits of Virtualization

During busy times it becomes even more important for IT managers to reduce costs while maintaining their high service levels. Data virtualization is a great way to get more out of the same, or fewer resources.

We apply ourselves first to unpicking the theory in the first half of this article. Then we discuss the tangible benefits that you, as IT manager, may obtain. To help you through the heavy lifting the possibilities include:

  1. Saving money and improving user access
  2. Freeing up assets and space in the computer room
  3. Simplifying disaster recovery and lowering costs
  4. Greener info tech through less carbon

A High Level Definition of Virtualization

Virtualization, in computing refers to a virtual (rather than an actual) version of something. For example, if we upload an image to Facebook from our computer we can open it from that site without knowing the new file path.

Facebook uses an abstraction layer of data virtualization that secures technical information. This layer is what data scientists refer to when they speak of data virtualization. This process may occur on a computer hardware platform, a storage device, and a computer network resource.

Drilling Deeper Into Virtualization Technology

Data virtualization involves running a computer-generated instance of a computer system in a layer abstracted from the actual hardware. In our Facebook example we could download our image to another machine anywhere in the world.

Hence we are using the social medium as ‘our cloud’ although we may not see it that way. However, a business application is more likely to involve concurrently running multiple applications on a single system.

Applications running simultaneously like this give the impression of operating independently, whereas in reality they are on the backbone of an underlying system.

There Are a Variety of Situations Where This Makes Sense

We do this as a matter of course on our personal desktops and laptops. It would make no sense at all having to reboot or switch computers to change applications. 

Virtualization similarly enables data administrators to run multiple applications on single servers. Segmenting them increases their efficiency, and enables them to concurrently serve different users requiring different applications. 

In this way we separate a larger system into numerous smaller parts, in order to provide a better service to multiple users with different priorities. They will not be aware this is happening. That’s because all they know is what they see on their end-user machines.

The Role of Hypervisors in Virtualization

Hypervisors are programs enabling us to create and operate virtual machines so one host computer can support a number of guest ‘virtual machines’. This allows the guests to share the host’s resources in terms of memory, processing etc. There are two types of hypervisors:

  • Type 1 hypervisors AKA ‘bare metal’ run directly on the host’s hardware
  • Type 2 hypervisors AKA ‘hosted’ run as software layers on operating systems 

 

Both types of hypervisors therefore allow us to use more of our system resources, while allowing our users far greater flexibility of operations. That’s because they can access our systems from anywhere they have a connection.

Drawing the Virtual Machine Threads Together

A virtual machine presents as a computer system running on top of another one from the user’s perspective. There are various advantages to this from their point of view:

  • They can access multiple system environments on a single computer 
  • Virtual machines are readily available and easier to operate and maintain
  • They also provide application provisioning and disaster recovery services

 

However, nothing is perfect in the world of computers. Virtual machines are less efficient because the resources are distributed. They may also become unstable if the host machine load is too high.

The Potential Advantages of Data Virtualization

IT managers who implement data virtualization often benefit from faster integration speeds, and are able to make decisions faster. However, those advantages are in the boardroom and the c-suite. What about the organization a whole? 

We can’t make promises as we have no direct involvement in your business. However from past experience we know you are likely to benefit as follows:

  1. Saving money and improving user access
  2. Freeing up assets and space in the computer room
  3. Simplifying disaster recovery and lowering costs
  4. Greener info tech through less carbon

Saving Money and Improving User Access

Service providers suggest their clients obtain tangible financial benefits from virtualizing data. They report 10% faster data delivery, and drawing reports in a fraction of the time previously.

They also cite significant savings in integration cost, and good claw backs on application licenses and general administration in the IT center. You will have to do your own research to decide how this applies to you.

Freeing Up Assets and Space in the Computer Room

The cost of a square meter of floor space in a computer room may surprise us when we add the factors up. Direct expenses include cost of capital / rental, energy costs and HVAC.

The indirect costs include IT staff and additional support. However, the opportunity costs may be even more significant. What else could you do with a server / the space it occupies when you free it up?

Simplifying Disaster Recovery and Lowering Costs

A review in Science Alert identifies significant disaster recovery benefits from data virtualization. Data disaster is a given due to human error and natural events they say however having fewer machines speeds the process.

Tapping into a centralized service should deliver “full data protection, virtualization vendor support, integration with a virtualization management platform, and secured flexible backup storage options,” they say.

Greener Info Tech through Less Carbon

Sanctions are bound to increase in terms of carbon taxes, and these will bite. Having a small server room after virtualization will cut energy costs and there’s no doubt about that.

However, this is not just about money. Gen Z and the millennials are increasing wary of serving a business just for that business’ sake. A green IT room is becoming a requirement for the best brains in the business.

Data Virtualization Improves the Overall Operation

Science Alert reports “virtualization lessens the IT burden in terms of less complex IT infrastructure”. For example, they claim 97 virtual servers can run on 3 physical machines which is a massive direct benefit.

This also delivers a potentially leaner, meaner business operation poised to take on the challenges of the future and benefit from them. With so much as stake, can we afford not to investigate virtualization further?