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What is virtualisation?

Virtualisation is the term used to describe the practice of converting physical computers into software computers. This can dramatically reduce physical hardware and software costs as well as improving server efficiency. It also postively impacts on operational costs such as power and cooling. It also allows, if correctly configured, improved up-time on an organisation's server estate.

Virtualisation can also massively increase an organisation's physical server utilisation. Instead of having a one application physical server sitting idle for 95% of the time, virtualisation dynamically allocates resources to the virtual machines that need it most. A physical host could have 10-20 virtual machines running as if they were physical servers. A utilisation increase of up to 80% is not unknown while hardware requirements can be reduced by a factor of 10:1 or sometimes better It also means that the days of having to plan downtime for server maintenance is all but gone as virtualisation allows the movement of virtual machines (VMs) between physical hosts without the VM ever having to be powered down.

Who are the main players?

There are currently a number of large software companies including Microsoft, Citrix, Oracle and RedHat offering virtualisation technology. The #1 company in the world for virtualisation is VMware. VMware was founded in 1998 and was the first company in the world to virtualise an x86 (Intel) computer with their VMware Workstation product. Previously virtualisation, or partitioning, had been confined to the realms of mainframe computing where resources on a single physical computer were split and allocated to the various applications running on the computer.

VMware has over 480,000 customers worldwide. VMware products are utilised by 100% of the Fortune 100 companies and 98% of the Fortune 500 companies. The top 50 banks in the world and the top 10 pharmaceutical companies use VMware as their chosen virtualisation platform.

Microsoft is another company that's making a big push in virtualisation with their Hyper-V product. Although the Hyper-V product is very good, their technology cannot touch the maturity and stability of the VMware platform.

How do I know what to virtualise?

Almost every platform in an x86 estate can be virtualised. One exception would include application servers that require physical 'dongles' attached to enable them to work. Another exception would be the Apple x86 OSX operating system - this can be virtualised, but the virtualisation software, or hypervisor, needs to be installed on a physical Apple server.

All major software vendors fully support virtualisation including Microsoft, Oracle and SAP so there is nothing standing in the way of potentially significant cost savings.

What's the next step?

Wherever you are with virtualisation, Code Blast can assist, we offer the following virtualisation services:
  • Brand new VMware infrastructure - none of your estate is virtualised and you'd like to save money on hardware, software and OPEX.

  • Upgrade existing VMware infrastructure - for organisations running older versions of VMware, Code Blast can upgrade all of your servers and virtual machines with minimal downtime.

  • VMware health check will ensure that you're VMware estate is patched up to the latest levels and that you're getting the most out of your VMware infrastructure.

  • Hardware refresh - some, or all of your physical servers and/or storage requires upgrading, Code Blast can plan and implement the upgrade path with minimal downtime.

All of these services can of course be performed on your virtualisation platform of choice, be it Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer or Parallels.

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