Virtualisation – The Reality, not the hype. Part I

Tam Kyle, Senior License Consultant

So, just to remind everyone, Rocela will be posting a series of short blogs based on a Virtualisation Roundtable discussion that we hosted in November last year. This topic proved to be particularly relevant with many of our clients so much so that we thought we’d share the experience with you.

Remember, at the end of this series, we will publish a fuller Virtualisation publication written by one of our Senior License Consultants, Tam Kyle – this will offer you much more detail and insight into this paradigm, how to side step the common pitfalls, its impact on licensing and the ‘3 Vital Treatments’ for Virtualisation ROI.

As we said in our introduction post earlier this week, this piece will concentrate on (at a very high level) what Virtualisation is and why companies are so keen to take advantage of it.

So, what are we talking about when we discuss Virtualisation? The concept of Virtualisation is not a new one – IBM was one of the first to produce a type of Virtualisation years ago however this was restricted to its large expensive mainframe platforms.

Today, when you look at standard server based virtualisation technologies, what we are referring to (in very simplistic terms) is an abstraction of the hardware interface from the operating system – allowing you to visualise your Operating System (OS) as not being ‘hard wired’ to your hardware – i.e. decoupling your operating system and everything that runs on it from the physical tin. That being said, Virtualisation is no longer restricted to servers – you can virtualise storage, desktops, applications and so on. Gartner predicts that by 2018, the percentage of x86-architecture workloads running in VM’s will be a massive 86%.

In general, there are 3 main kinds of virtualisation:

• OS virtualisation
• Type 2 Hypervisors
• Type 1 Hypervisors

The type you chose/use depends on many factors – cost, functional or operational requirement, strategic vision, resource constraints, current issues and so on.

In general, the differences surround how a particular Virtualisation technology is implemented, and what it’s operational and functional capabilities and constraints are. For example, all OS Virtualisation ‘instances’ need to be of the same type, whereas Type 1 hypervisor ‘instances’ can usually run many different operating systems – you could have a Windows server running in a VM (virtual machine), alongside a Linux server in another VM. This provides more flexibility but requires typically more effort to provision, operate and support.

Let’s have a quick look at why Virtualisation is so popular with businesses today. Well, the answer is simple – time and money.

It’s a well known fact that the sheer complexity of datacentre technology and manpower required can impede an organisations ability to make change happen quickly which could affect their competitive edge in the market place. Furthermore, the ever increasing costs of power, square footage, hardware, software and internal resources means those organisations will be paying more and more to keep their IT lights on.

Virtualisation can help to solve both these problems – put simplistically, by decreasing the amount of physical hardware and space required to do the same (or a much better job), you decrease the amount of power, footfall and manpower and in turn, reduce cost. You are paying much less for more.

Virtualising also allows for much quicker and simpler provisioning – whether it’s resolving a failing server, running maintenance patching or accommodating new applications. It’s the dream scenario every IT or Datacentre Manager dreams of – efficient, resilient with minimal ‘hands on’ management.

You might be saying to yourself ‘I know all this’, however from our experience in helping clients resolve Oracle licensing issues, what is less understood is why many Virtualisation projects go wrong, particularly when it comes to license compliance. In our next blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the common issues including the impact on licensing.

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