Server virtualization management has been surrounded by various misconceptions, mainly because of a lack of knowledge. Read on to know the reality behind these six popular
Myth 1: Virtualization eliminates downtime
Virtualization management reduces the downtime of the server per se. However, the downtime of business applications is dependent not only on the server, but also on other factors such as network, power and cooling. The total downtime will not be eliminated, but the hardware-related downtime will be eliminated to a very large extent (approximately 99.999%). Also, while deploying, if the organization has not used “on the fly” migration of the virtual machine (VM), then there will be downtime issues while shifting VMs to another server.
2) The underlying OS platform is very important for successful virtualization management
The fact of the matter is that OS platforms don’t really matter. Most of the virtualization frameworks support all popular OS platforms. This cannot be a factor to determine performance or make virtualization management easier.
3) Virtualization management can reduce staff
In the Indian scenario (where IT organizations are over-manned), there is the belief that virtualization will help reduce staff. A couple of personnel can indeed be redeployed for management of virtualization setups, but looking at it in the context of Indian salaries and hiring processes, server virtualization cannot reduce staff count as such.
4) Virtualization management brings big cost savings
There are lots of costs associated with the post-virtualization phase—such as for the backup strategy—which have to be taken into account. The savings which you get after the implementation of virtualization are very much dependent on the number of physical servers you are virtualizing, and on the actual number of servers post-virtualization. It also depends on which stage your servers are in. Are you paying heavily for an annual maintenance contract (AMC) for those servers? Instead of paying big amounts for AMCs of a certain number of servers, it is better to bring down the cost by purchasing fewer servers with warranty. Cost savings also depend on the future growth of IT infrastructure. Virtualization management becomes very cost-effective if you can estimate your growth over the next one to two years.
5) All applications can be virtualized and managed with virtualization management tools
You can virtualize whichever application you want; however, the point to ponder is whether you will get any business benefit by virtualizing certain applications. It is always advisable to not virtualize heavy I/O intensive or RAM-intensive applications. Virtualizing applications which have varying loads makes more sense because free RAM can be deployed on the fly.
6) Virtualization management requires special staff training
Virtualization management can be learned very much on the job. The only pre-requisite is proper knowledge of server virtualization concepts, and how it works. Once that is in place, an administrator can easily operate.
About the author: Satish Pai is the Systems Administration Manager at Marico. He has 15 years of experience in the IT function of end-user companies. Pai handles systems administration with the primary responsibility of SAP technical administration, IT infrastructure, networking and communications. He has recently worked on a hardware virtualization and SAP application virtualization project at Marico.
(As told to Jasmine Desai)
This was first published in October 2010