Intentional Technology.

What is Virtualization?

First, let's start with a definition of virtualization. Wikipedia defines virtualization as follows:

"Virtualization, in computing, is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device or network resources."


So in other words, by virtualizing your software server environment, such as Windows Server 2003 you create a server that is completely independent from the physical hardware server. At this point you may ask why you would do that. The answer is very simple, to share physical resources of your hardware server with other software servers. This saves time, money, energy, and other precious resources.

Why Virtualize?

Virtualization basically changed the old equation where one hardware server was equal to exactly one software server. For example, if you bought a server from Dell in 2003 your only choice was to run only one Microsoft Windows Server 2003 instance or one Linux Red Hat Server instance, but not both on that same Dell server. If you decided a year later to add MS Exchange Server 2003 to your organization you were basically forced to buy another hardware server from Dell, HP, IBM or other server manufacturers. If you decided later to add an additional domain controller to your Windows network you were forced to buy another hardware server again.

By implementing virtualization you are able to share physical resources of your server, such as processors, memory, hard drives, etc. among two or more software servers. For your illustration, today you can successfully run MS Windows Server 2003, that acts as domain controller and file server, side-by-side with MS Exchange Server 2003, which handles your company's e-mail. A few years ago this solution would require you to have a minimum of two physical servers. Today you only need one physical server.

Virtualize and Consolidate!

By consolidating two or more software servers to one hardware server you save a significant amount of money that would require you to purchase, run and maintain an additional physical server.

By virtualizing and consolidating your new or existing information technology systems you save:

  • Money. As mentioned above, by sharing resources of a physical server among two or more software servers, you save money by not purchasing additional hardware that would only use 15% - 20% of its physical resources to run one software server.
  • Energy. By running more of the software servers on fewer hardware servers you will drastically reduce your energy consumption, which would otherwise go into powering and cooling underutilized hardware servers.
  • Time. Deployment of new or conversion of existing software servers is less time consuming than deployment or migration of a single purpose hardware server. Common maintenance tasks such as backup, recovery, upgrades, updates, etc. are done much faster in virtual computing environments.

Why not Virtualize and Consolidate?

Sometimes the benefits of virtualization will not outweigh the drawbacks. To some companies it does not make economic sense to take a virtualization route. If your company runs a single purpose server it does not make any sense to virtualize. Also, it is not recommended to virtualize the single domain controller in a windows network. If you have an application server that requires lots of processing power, memory and input/output resources we would recommend running it on a dedicated server. Also each deployed virtual server is required to have its own license.

However, if you want to deploy a new application server, such as a print server, it makes sense to use the existing resources of an existing server to install and run this new application server on top of the existing operating system. This solution is called "Hosted Virtualization" and today it is possible with most Microsoft Windows server operating systems.

Which Virtualization Solution is Right for Me?

There are two types of virtualization. One already mentioned above is "Hosted Virtualization". In a hosted virtualization scenario the hypervisor, which is the fancy name for the actual virtualization layer or program, runs on top of the operating system. The second type of virtualization is called "Bare-Metal Virtualization." It is called bare-metal because the hypervisor runs directly on top of the hardware system and there is no underlying host or operating system between the hardware and hypervisor.

For networks with two or less hardware servers and one or two application servers, Black Sea Systems recommends hosted virtualization. Click here to learn more about hosted virtualization.

Black Sea System virtualization experts will determine what is the right virtualization path and solution for your organization. For more information about your virtual options please contact us here.

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