Virtualization is the process of running many virtual systems on a single physical system. It is typical that a in the case of a server it will only utilize 20%-30% of the hardware on average. If your company has a need for more than one server system this technology is something worth looking into as the up front and long term investments are very compelling versus owning and maintaining multiple server systems. In addition scaling to additional servers later becomes very simple and less expensive in almost all cases. There are however risks to consider that are easy to overlook and often are from what I have experienced.
1. Availability issues – If the hardware fails all of the servers will now be unavailable unless a good disaster recovery and business continuance plan was included in the design and solution.
2. Over utilization – The resources aren’t properly allocated and the server is over utilized. It is strongly recommended that the available resources be monitored 24/7 to proactively detect over-utilization before a failure or performance issues arrive.
1. Scalability – As the need for additional virtual systems become necessary, virtual machines can be created on demand. Need a new server for your new accounting application… purchase a server license, create a new virtual server and presto you got it.
2. Return on investment – The cost savings can really help the justification for this type of configuration. For example running five virtual servers on one physical server not only saves in the initial hardware investments but less power will be required and less heat will be produced thus reducing cooling costs. We actually had one client that was ready to expand the server room, upgrade the generator and A/C unit. We virtualized 35 servers onto 6. They saw an immediate return on their investment (ROI).
3. High availability – With the correct configuration it is possible to setup the virtual servers in a fail-over setup that would result in zero downtime. There is always the risk of a server failure as a result of something other than hardware but with virtualization hardware failures can become eliminated as a threat to accessing your data.
Of course a case could be made for other relevant risks versus rewards but we have seen fantastic results when applying virtualization in organizations server rooms and data centers.