Data Center Journal

Volume 30 | February 2014

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Page 21 of 32

v irtualization has been a major data center trend for a number of years, being driven by compa- nies' desire for greater operating efficiency, lower capital costs, better use of existing floor and rack space, and reduced energy consumption. e heart of virtualization is the hypervisor or virtualization layer, which hides the server hardware and presents a "generalized" environment in which processes can run. ese processes, or virtual machines, can be anything from single applications to entire operating systems. A number of benefits accrue from virtualization; one of the key features underlying these benefits is that the hypervisor presents a common platform to virtual machines regardless of the underlying hardware. us, the virtual machines need not be tailored to a variety of different servers, storage systems and so on—instead, they need only operate using the common virtualized environment. is characteristic enables, for instance, easy portability of virtual machines among dif- ferent hardware systems (as long as those systems run the same hypervisor). Further- more, backup (or, more particularly, resto- ration) is simplified because of the single, unifying virtualization layer. In addition, this approach allows multiple virtual machines to run on a single server while maintaining isolation. Instead of dedicating an entire server to a single process—a configuration that, ac- cording to some estimates, yields hardware utilization rates below just 10% in some data centers—servers can ran as many pro- cesses as necessary to increase utilization while still dedicating sufficient resources to each process. Naturally, over time virtual machine technology has expanded and improved, encompassing more features and capabili- ties in critical areas such as, for security, security and operating isolation. Here's a snapshot of the current state of virtual machines, as well as where they may be headed in coming years. By JeffRey R ClaRk, ph.D. Virtual Machine Technology: Now and Later THE DATA CENTER JOURNAL | 19

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