Virtualize Your Way to a Greener Tomorrow

image Having worked in data centers for the last four years of my life I know that most servers are grossly under utilized. Burning the power to keep servers online that are utilized, on average, five to twenty percent.

Economics, the way they are today, constantly challenges us and pushes us to find new and creative ways to solve problems. Virtualization allows us to provide consolidation for under utilized servers and “pools” resources to allow systems to burst when they need it. Virtualization, in my opinion, is a very green initiative. In this article I will talk mainly about VMware based virtualization technologies.

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So what are the benefits of virtualizing your servers?

  • Instant ROI – Servers which were underutilized no longer consume power.
  • Ease of Management – Restart systems from a central management location
  • Dynamic Resource Scheduler (DRS) – VMware technology provides the capability to VMotion servers from one physical system to another when extra resources are needed. DRS even weighs the “cost” of moving the machine to another host machine.
  • Capacity Planner – VMware also has utilities to help you plan your virtual environment based on your site’s resource needs. Simply install a utility and let it run for about 30 days. Once the utility has gathered enough data, you will be presented with suggestions
  • High Availability (HA) – VMware offers highly-available services. All of your systems will now have the added benefit of HA at the virtualization layer

So, if Virtualization is so GREEN then what are the downsides?

  • Initial equipment cost is high
  • Use of fast centralized storage (SAN, NAS) is needed; very expensive
  • Systems must match architectures (AMD, Intel) to allow VMotion/HA
  • Systems must support Virtualization Technology (VT)
Conclusion

If you can afford the initial expense, virtualization will save you money in cooling, power and equipment maintenance costs in the long run. I believe virtualization is a great tool to help reduce datacenter costs. Please remember there are things that should not be virtualized: large database servers, exchange servers and some application servers may be too disk intensive for your environment’s abilities. Consider keeping these systems as physical servers.

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