Virtualization is today's reality

CIOL Bureau
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Ed Nair


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: It was evident from VMWorld 2007 that virtualization has gone mainstream in enterprise computing. Virtualization deals with the abstraction of hardware and software resources in a computing environment. The nine-year old company, Palo Alto-based VMware, attracted nearly 11,000 people and scores of partners at VMWorld 2007 in September, a month after it went public. VMware's IPO was a spectacular success in stock market terms. And in her keynote, Diane Greene, President and CEO, VMware called it as, "The IPO of the virtualization industry rather than VMware alone," and recanted its potential to wrought a revolution in computing architecture.

At the event, VMware announced a new hypervisor called ESX Server 3i that comes integrated with server hardware. Server vendors who announced pre-installed hypervisor from VMware include Dell, IBM, HO, Fujitsu Siemens Computers and NEC. The new hypervisor occupies a 32 MB footprint and is OS independent. It can therefore be easily embedded into a hardware that makes the hardware come ready with manageability in a distributed environment.

"ESX Server 3i will have a significant impact on the IT industry," said Peter Amstutz, Chief, Network Design, Defense Contract Management Agency. "IT professionals will stop thinking about virtualization as an operating system or software, but really as a component of the hardware itself."

Hardware vendors are expected to begin shipping ESX Server 3i within their products by the end of 2007 and over the course of 2008.

Other announcements centered around the new product introductions in the virtualization infrastructure like virtual desktop, automation of disaster recovery, data centers, and virtual appliances.

In a step that may be seen to be extending a friendly hand to potential competitors, VMware announced the development of a standard called OVF (Open Virtualization Format) along with Microsoft, which is working on a virtualization product code-named Viridian and Xensource, the open source virtualization technology. The standard is aimed at easing the packaging and distribution of virtual machines. But Greene avers that VMware is ahead of the game than Microsoft citing that the latter's product doesn't support the live migration of virtual machines while they are running purportedly a very powerful feature in virtualization.

The technical benefits of virtualization leads to a larger benefit in the form of savings in power needed to run servers and the cooling of data centers. The gains here are substantial. AMD's Delivering a keynote address, chairman Hector Ruiz gave the example of a 79 percent reduction in power consumption when they consolidated 113 servers using virtualization at their Austin data center.