I speak with a number of people every year who have never heard of virtualization, and quite frankly this is a point that saddens me as a technology enthusiast. How can everyone in the world not know about the glorious wonders that await them if they virtualized their infrastructure?! Haha, ok maybe that’s going a bit too far, but I think you get my point.
To date, I’d have to say that of the business decision makers I meet, only about 30 percent of them know what virtualization is. Now on the flip side, of the people who are actively down in the trenches managing systems on a day to day basis, nearly 75% of them have either used some method of virtualization or heard of it. My question is, why is there such a disparity in knowledge of something that can be so beneficial to an organization between these two groups of people?
Well that’s what this post is about, educating decision makers about the numerous business benefits that virtualization solutions provide.
Virtualization History Lesson
Virtualization as noun, refers to technologies designed to provide a layer of abstraction between computer hardware systems and the software running on them. By providing a logical view of computing resources, rather than a physical view, virtualization solutions make it possible to do a couple of very useful things: They can allow you, essentially, to trick your operating systems into thinking that a group of servers is a single pool of computing resources. And they can allow you to run multiple operating system installations simultaneously on a single machine, thereby greatly increasing the utilization of any one piece of hardware.
Virtualization has it’s origins in partitioning, which divides a single physical server into multiple logical servers. Once the physical server is divided, each logical server can run an operating system and applications independently. In the 90s, virtualization was used primarily to re-create end-user environments on a single piece of mainframe hardware. If you were an IT administrator and you wanted to roll out new software, but you wanted see how it would work on a Windows NT or a Linux machine, you used virtualization technologies to create the various user environments.
But with the advent of the x86 architecture and inexpensive PCs, virtualization faded and seemed to be little more than a fad of the mainframe era. It’s fair to credit the recent rebirth of virtualization on the x86 architecture to the founders of the current market leader, VMware. However VMware couldn’t have done it alone, and I often credit Moore’s Law in helping computing power reach a point where virtualization was once again a viable solution in the enterprise.