SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

July 06, 2011 15:26 ET

Leveraging Virtualization Cost-Savings

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 6, 2011) - One doesn't have to look long to find out why an ever-escalating number of companies recovering from the recession are turning to virtualization: cost. Instead of one server running one instance of an operating system, now several such instances -- or even several operating systems -- can be launched that act as complete and whole servers unto themselves. To the hosting machine, each virtual machine appears like an application, and the base hardware is powerful enough to run several of these applications at the same time.

In addition to its obvious use, many more clever ways have been found to utilize virtual machines. They are making it possible for people with tablet computers to access their desktops -- meaning work can be performed in real-time from literally anywhere. Virtual machines can mimic physical servers, be recovered from backup and then be restored to the same or even different hardware. They are contributing greatly to the rock-bottom prices now being offered by hosting companies, and are making cloud computing extremely cost-effective. It is certain that many more innovations are headed our way as well.

But as companies continue to virtualize, speed must be maintained between hardware hosts and virtual machines. Virtual machines activities must also be coordinated.

A critical factor to access speed is I/O reads and writes -- a factor so important that if not properly addressed can create considerable and widespread problems. Fragmentation, a condition in which files are split into thousands or tens of thousands of pieces (fragments), causes many additional I/Os to be required in simple reading and writing of those files. Performance and hardware reliability are seriously hampered by fragmentation, and I/O bottlenecks occur as a result as well.

Instead of the single layer of hardware-based systems, an I/O request must pass through multiple layers in a virtual environment. Hence, fragmentation has a more profound effect than it used to, and can even hinder the ability to launch and run further virtual machines.

Once the solution to fragmentation, traditional defragmentation won't fully address I/O issues in virtual environments. Beyond fragmentation, I/Os need to be prioritized, coordinating shared I/O resources. Another condition peculiar to virtual environments that results from fragmentation is virtual disk "bloat." This condition occurs when virtual disks are set to dynamically grow but don't then shrink when users or applications remove data.

The solution is virtual platform disk optimization technology which, fortunately, is now considerably advanced and available. This solution prevents a majority of fragmentation before it even happens, resources are fully coordinated, and a compaction feature makes it possible to eliminate virtual disk "bloat."

To truly realize the considerable cost savings offered by virtualization, all enterprises should ensure their virtual platforms are properly optimized.

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