Realizing Data Center Efficiency with Virtualization and Dynamic Infrastructure

By Lori MacVittie (Profile)
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Friday, August 28th 2009
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Virtualization is rapidly becoming a fact of life in the day to day operations of data centers across the globe. Whether it's being used for consolidation purposes, as a means to achieve a more dynamic cloud-based architecture, or whether it's required as part of a cloud-based initiative, virtualization is one of the foundational technologies involved in efforts to realize greater data center efficiencies.

While consolidation is often cited as one of the primary means through which value is realized with virtualization - it has an appreciating return because a single physical system can support multiple platforms simultaneously, which lowers the cost of operating expenses related to hardware support - efficiency and agility are just as beneficial to the data center investing in a virtualized infrastructure.

In the past, hardware resources were often underutilized purposefully which meant a lot of money was being wasted by essentially over-provisioning of hardware and software licenses. Virtualization has allowed organizations to maximize the utilization of hardware resources on an as-needed basis, saving time and effort when more capacity is required as "extra" resources can be utilized by applications requiring more capacity without impacting existing applications and their resource requirements. The ability to consume what would otherwise be idle resources is more efficient than traditional means of increasing capacity, and further offers greater agility in deployment and operations as IT staff can respond immediately to unanticipated demand for applications or other resources being served by a virtualized system.

The nature of virtualization also improves the efficiency of the processes used to provision resources as a single virtual machine can be configured once and simply deployed as necessary. This reduces the potential for the introduction of configuration errors or conflicts between applications, operating systems, and ancillary dependent software as once the system has been properly configured it can be provisioned and de-provisioned at will with the certainty that when launched it will be ready to execute.

Benefits of Dynamic Infrastructure

There are two ways in which a dynamic infrastructure improves efficiency in a data center: process efficiency and technological efficiency. Both forms of efficiency are achieved via one of the core properties of a dynamic infrastructure: contextual awareness.

Process efficiency is achieved through automation of the network and application network infrastructure. Operational processes such as provisioning and managing maintenance windows often require manual intervention. The integration and collaborative attributes of a dynamic infrastructure, i.e. a standards-based API providing access to the infrastructure's control plane, allow many of these processes to be automated and integrated into existing management systems. In addition to efficiency, automation of operational processes provides a measure of consistency across time and processes by removing the possibility of human error that can introduce failures.