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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Virtualization unraveling the mysterious buzz word

Sandeep Menon
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Sandeep Menon
Virtualization is a topic that is now on everybody's mind, and with a good reason. It's a critical, sea-changing concept with wide-reaching implications on IT optimization and efficiency. The idea that you can make pools of dynamic resources with unlimited capacity available to users anywhere, at anytime is an extraordinary idea that is now real and practical to implement.

However, the concept of virtualization is not as new as some people may think. Virtual machine technology for time-sharing on Mainframes dates back to the 1960s. Proprietary Unix systems have been offering virtualization for over a decade now. And software based virtualization technologies have been available on the x86 platform. So what really has caused this technology to become such a hot topic today? At a very broad level, one could say that it's the confluence of challenging business demands, inefficiently sprawled IT infrastructure and the emergence of virtualization technologies that span the entire stack, which is making virtualization so attractive for today's organizations. Particularly important is the role played by the open source industry, in commoditizing and bringing virtualization to the mass market. The emergence of the Xen hypervisor as an efficient
"para" virtualization tool, and the decision of the major Linux vendors to bundle it freely in their distributions, changed the landscape of the market completely. All of a sudden, even the smallest customer, with the most simple of Intel or AMD boxes, could start experimenting with and implementing virtualization, at no extra cost. This truly brought virtualization to the masses, and made it a much more widely available and popular technology overnight, the results of which we are seeing today.

The long-term benefits of virtualization are also important to note. The most commonly cited benefit is cost reduction. While this can be significant, saving money is just a part of the value that virtualization can deliver. Beyond that, virtualization is a transformational technology that, if effectively employed, can help companies to create IT systems that are not only highly efficient and cost effective, but that have the self-awareness to adapt automatically and instantly to deliver the capabilities needed as business conditions change. In a sense, it also lays the foundation for the future of real utility computing.

What is Virtualization?

In layman terms, virtualization essentially lets one computer do the job of multiple computers, by sharing the resources of a single computer across multiple environments. Virtual servers and virtual desktops let you host multiple operating systems and multiple applications locally and in remote locations, freeing you from physical and geographical limitations. In addition to notching up energy savings and lower capital expenses due to more efficient use of your hardware resources. You get high availability of resources, better desktop management, increased security, and improved disaster recovery processes when you build a virtual infrastructure. And virtual infrastructure is not just limited to servers and desktops. Storage virtualization, I/O virtualization and such others are all complementing concepts to the overall landscape.

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