Cost Benefits of Server Virtualization

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1 2010 W H I T E P A P E R R. 1 Cost Benefits of Server Virtualization * By: Matt McPhail / Western Region Systems Engineer * Scale Computing * *

2 Table of Contents Introduction What defines Server Virtualization? What defines Clustered Storage? Cost Cost Benefits of Server Virtualization Cost of Traditional Storage Cost of Clustered Storage Cost Benefit of Virtualization with Clustered Storage Conclulsion

3 Introduction Server virtualization and clustered storage have much more in common than what is easily apparent. In fact, it can be argued that the next generation IT data center will leverage the symbiotic relationship between the two technologies to reduce costs, increase control and eliminate needless complexities. This paper reviews the necessary synergies and explores the case for combining virtualization strategies with next generation, clustered storage solutions. What defines Server Virtualization? Virtualization is defined as the ability to abstract physical resources into separate logical (or virtual) units. Originally coined and invented by IBM in the 1960 s for their mainframe line, it has come to generalize a number of types, including Storage, I/O, Network, OS, Application and Server. Server Virtualization has the ability to abstract physical servers into many discreet virtual machines, and has been introduced and primarily supported on the x86 platform by VMware, although other players such as Microsoft, Citrix, and Oracle are starting to gain momentum in the space. What defines Clustered Storage? Clustered Storage is defined as the ability to federate data and management of data across any number of disk and chassis units, and in the process create a large pool or repository for information to be held. Clustered Storage is redundant in nature, and due to the federation of storage resources both inside and outside the form factor, is considered a scale out technology. A typical Clustered Storage solution leverages a full featured clustered file system, which allows for the solution to scale -out based on ever changing storage requirements, instead of the traditional method of scaling up to overcompensate for the limitations of single-instance storage. Cost Cost Benefits of Server Virtualization Server Virtualization is a game-changer when it comes to reducing costs in the datacenter. Before P

4 Cost Benefits of Server Virtualization - Cont. server virtualization, single applications needed to run on single physical servers in order to ensure application and OS integrity. As server needs continue to expand, purchasing a single server for every business critical application becomes cost prohibitive. With server virtualization, businesses have a way to trim costs in the datacenter. With Moore s Law continuing to exponentially increase the speed and resources of x86 servers, few single application instances use more than 5 percent of their physical servers. Server virtualization allows for those machines to be consolidated, at times greater than 10:1 virtual machines to physical machines. With 90 percent or more of x86 servers not needing to be replaced or under warranty, businesses save money. Within the first year of purchasing a server virtualization solution (including the virtualization licenses, hardware, networking and storage) the average amount saved quickly produces a return on investment. Some customers see an even quicker return on investment if they re-use existing hardware. These customers start saving on capital expenses within months. In addition to that ROI is the savings on operational expenses. With 90 percent of servers no longer needed, power and cooling costs dramatically decrease. Server virtualization also saves employee time. Cabling and peripherals, such as network cards or HBA, do not have to be installed or managed. Physical servers, which could take over a day to provision, are now built within minutes in a virtual environment. Ubiquitous management tools put an entire datacenter under a single interface, also streamlining maintenance. Time that the IT professional saves can now be used for innovation in key business drivers, not simply break fix. Cost of Traditional Storage Yet with all of the benefits of Server Virtualization, one of its requirements for full functionality is shared storage storage not directly connected to a server but shared across a network. For traditional storage vendors this adds problems, especially cost. When purchasing a server virtualization solution that includes hardware and software, for every dollar spent on full-featured server virtualization licenses and associated OS and software, businesses spend $5 or more on traditional, single instance storage. This is not only due to the high list price of traditional storage and high licensing fees after a three or five year term, but also the high cost of a complex implementation. P4

5 Cost of Traditional Storage - Cont. Traditional storage requires dedicated storage administrators to manage the complex interface, including tasks such as managing zones and disk RAID sets both of which are unnecessary with clustered storage. Features like replication and added protocols (which have costly licensing fees) also require extensive management and/or long integration and setup to build a quasi-unified storage architecture. The result is a maintenance-only environment that uses resources and license spend on reactive needs instead of proactive innovation. This leads to vendor lock-in and lack of migration ability due to admin over-burdening, resulting in large licensing charges once the license contract expires. All of these factors offset the cost savings that server virtualization offers and lead to high costs of revenue and resources for traditional storage. This is exactly what clustered storage is architected to avoid. Cost of Clustered Storage Clustered Storage by nature is flexible and distributed. This adds inherent benefits that allow for immediate value to be gained by businesses. At the core, clustered storage is leveraging a clustered file system. A clustered file system allows for all units of storage to actively read and write client accessible data and manage it in a federated fashion. Without a clustered file system, units of storage are simply redundant nodes of traditional data, with a percentage of data, at times up to 50 percent, restricted from client access. This allows for the starting price of usable redundant clustered storage to be more attractive than traditional storage. By using a clustered file system, all of the hardware units are automatically federated without the use of traditional RAID. The benefit to the lack of RAID set is that new hardware can be added to the cluster and its resources are simply balanced with the rest. Also hardware does not have to represent discreet units, such as controller, storage, or throughput modules. Each hardware unit in a clustered architecture can represent all three, thus lowering expenses. Thus when new hardware nodes are added to clustered storage, the business does not simply get added storage capacity, but added I/O performance, and network throughput. In that regard, adding hardware is flexible. Without a RAID set, new capacity can be added in any increment, and not in the traditional manner of a frame at a time. Also, if businesses need to P5

6 Cost of Clustered Storage - Cont. increase performance or throughput, it is as simple as adding in a performance or throughput node to an existing cluster. Finally, the ability to add hardware in small units optimizes the purchase for the business as it allows for increased return on investment due to procurement based upon need, and not on over-architecture due to the lack of flexibility of traditional storage. Cost Benefit of Virtualization with Clustered Storage Both server virtualization and clustered storage see a large benefit in purchasing only based on need. Businesses using server virtualization see increased return on investment by not having to purchase physical servers that sit under-utilized. By using clustered storage, businesses see increased return on investment in pairing with server virtualization by not having to over-architect a traditional storage solution to plan for virtualization growth. Identical to the ability of server virtualization to add more resources simply by adding more physical servers, the same is true with clustered storage by adding more storage nodes. The same is true with regard to decreased power, cooling, and maintenance needs. Whether it is server virtualization or clustered storage, by purchasing only based on need businesses do not have the ongoing spend of power and cooling for either physical servers or traditional storage that is under-utilized or not in use at all. Maintenance and management works to decrease costs in a different way. By unifying all tasks under a single interface, both server virtualization and clustered storage streamline the management needs of an infrastructure and thus lead to increased innovation for business due to higher productivity. Whether it is reducing the time to build a server via a virtual machine template for server virtualization or hot-add of storage resources for clustered storage, the process is made simpler, thus giving the admin more time to focus on other ways to save the business revenue including moving virtualization outside of the datacenter. With the increased return on investment by coupling server virtualization and clustered storage, other cost barriers for virtualization tend to erode as well. The biggest of which is desktop virtualization. The high requirements of traditional storage tend to slow the adoption of business to add lower priority desktops to a virtualization environment. Yet with the lowered cost of server virtualization and clustered storage, those barriers are removed and businesses see a greater benefit of moving desktops to a solution that has more flexibility and lower initial costs. P6

7 Conclusion In comparing server virtualization and clustered storage, the similarities should be apparent when you look at the cost savings. Both save on the initial purchase over their counterparts of physical servers or traditional storage and both offer a more flexible, unified experience that allows for the ease of additional resources. Using those similarities, it should be evident that the optimal pairing of server virtualization and clustered storage offer the best cost savings for businesses and the highest return on investment over time for users of the technology.. * * Toll Free: (877) SCALE-59 * Website: * P7

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