Virtualization is the fastest growing segment of the IT field, offering the ability to centrally manage and deploy virtual machines to support enhanced networking, by leveraging the full potential of existing hardware. The recognized leader in this field is VMware, and their most popular product, vSphere, offers a host of solutions that can adapt to any size enterprise in any field. vSphere is a critical component of Virtual Internet’s cloud hosting solutions, being one of the first providers in the UK to offer both Xen OnApp and VMware virtualization options for small and large businesses.
How It Works
vSphere works in a very simple way. The initial software is loaded onto a physical machine, build specifically for the intent of virtual deployments. Typically, these types of machine will be processor, RAM and storage heavy, with a smaller form factor than a tower based server, but more robust than a typical blade configuration.
Once vSphere is deployed onto the ESX frame, the administrator can then create a virtual machine based on any specification, with the limitation of the physical server it resides on, meaning it can’t have more RAM or hard drive space than the whole machine.
Benefits in computing, storage and network
The premise that vSphere is based on is that no one machine utilizes all of its components and processor abilities fully at all times. vSphere allows the unused potential to be distributed to other virtual machines that have need of that resource. This creates a perfect balance when one virtual machine is being used as a storage container for VM snapshots, or incremental backup, while another virtual machine is running the DHCP server and serving Active Directory.
For a network administrator, the advantages of vSphere as a virtualization solution are the central console to logically group the servers in the network, the ability to take snapshots for easy backups, and the ability to clone machines for deploying load balancing solutions.
vSphere comes in four editions: Standard; Standard with Operations Management; Enterprise; and Enterprise Plus. The differences in the editions come down to the number of virtual CPU’s that can be allocated, with Standard at 8, Enterprise at 32 and Enterprise Plus allowing for up to 64 CPU’s per virtual machine. The Enterprise editions are also geared towards storage solutions.
The latest release from VMware is vSphere 5.1, features improvements in the deployment and automation processes, as well as a new virtual machine format that allows for larger provision of RAM, up to 1 terabyte.
Availability and Data Protection also received upgrades, reducing overall downtime. Finally, the VCenter Operations Manager features newer, more refined reporting features to allow for better measurement and monitoring of network health.
A needs analysis is necessary in any organization to determine the proper roadmap to virtualization. With virtualization in particular, it lends itself to scalability, so most businesses can enter into the standard edition and map out their deployments gradually, upgrading their hardware to support a larger expansion of the network down the road.
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