SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

July 21, 2011 07:30 ET

Addressing Performance of Virtual Machines

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 21, 2011) - Virtual machines have meant a quantum leap in computing from numerous aspects. From a footprint standpoint, multiple servers can now be operated from one hardware platform, where before one server equaled one such platform. From an ease-of-use viewpoint, a user can now launch a complete server and utilize it for specific tasks -- something unheard of in past years. As the technology evolves, such benefits will only improve and become more in number.

Already we are seeing widening use of virtual machines, beyond that of servers. Made virtual, desktops can be accessed by remote devices creating a "work anywhere in real time" scenario. Physical servers can be mimicked by virtual machines allowing them to be backed up and restored, if need be, onto new hardware. Because they make further use of existing hardware, virtual machines are extremely attractive to hosting companies, cloud computing and SaaS (Software as a Service) enterprises.

As virtualization continues to advance, maintenance of its speed and performance becomes increasingly important. Coordination of virtual machine activities on the same platform must also be maintained.

Due to the many innovations that contribute to virtualization, it may seem impossible that it would suffer from some of the same basic performance troubles as earlier technology. But it happens to be true, simply because no matter how virtual an environment becomes, it is still rooted in hardware, which behaves in a very traditional manner. For example, I/O reads and writes, if not optimized, are performed in a fragmented fashion. A file natively exists on a hard drive in pieces (fragments); a file in tens or hundreds of thousands of such fragments is not at all uncommon. The enormous amount of extra I/O activity when fragmentation is present takes a serious toll on system speed and hardware as well.

Fragmentation has an especially serious impact in a virtual environment, simply because an I/O request must pass through multiple layers.

Traditional defragmentation does not fully tackle the range of I/O issues within virtual environments. There are other problems to address beyond fragmentation itself, including the prioritization of I/Os and a condition known as disk "bloat" that occurs when virtual disks are set to dynamically grow but don't then shrink when users or applications remove data.

Virtual platform disk optimization technology now exists that takes all of these concerns into account. A majority of fragmentation is totally prevented before it even occurs, I/O resources are coordinated, and virtual disk "bloat" is eliminated with a compaction feature.

The great advances possible with virtual technology can only be truly made with proper optimization.

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