Virtualization s Evolution

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1 Virtualization s Evolution Expect more from your IT solutions.

2 Virtualization s Evolution In 2009, most Quebec businesses no longer question the relevancy of virtualizing their infrastructure. Rather, they are wondering when they should start. Virtualization methods are already helping many businesses to significantly reduce their operating costs significantly through better use of resources and reduction in energy and acquisition costs. Better still, virtualization is helping organizations be more flexible by promoting the scalability of their IT resources, facilitating the resolution of service problems and improving their backup and recovery functionalities. If the decision to use virtualization technology is easy to take, it forces IT services managers who take this direction for the first time to question themselves as to where they should start. Businesses can rely on proven virtualization technology to address multiple challenges, whether to meet their hardware, applications or storage needs or to control data center sprawl. But to start with, what needs should be met to maximize these technological benefits? The following document identifies opportunities and choices available to IT managers and makes recommendations to help you find the solution that truly suits your needs. Virtualization s Benefits At Metafore, we believe that virtualization s main benefit is adaptability. For many years now, IT professionals have been looking for ways to meet new business challenges in a timely manner, while ensuring that the existing infrastructure continues to satisfy their organization s current needs. They have focused on cost management, which has prompted rationalization initiatives and agreements based on measurable factors and aimed at improving the quality of service (QoS). However, this approach has the disadvantage of having generated complex architectures which are sometimes trapped in organizational silos. Therefore, in general, organizations allocate about 80% of their resources to manage, support and maintain existing infrastructures and they neglect applications development, innovation and refining comprehensive IT strategies. Now, organizations need to work with scenarios where information tec hnology is focused on timely delivery of solutions that allow for applications, servers and storage devices that can be acquired through a dynamic procurement process instead of relying on complex IT assets acquisition and change management processes. Virtualization provides a significant benefit as it allows for a much faster deployment of resources through methods such as isolation, partitioning and encapsulation of solution components Ready to virtualize your infrastructure? Organizations best suited to virtualize their environment are those having already taken advantage of the benefits of streamlining their IT infrastructure. Standardizing their IT facilities has enabled them to provide each category of users with the appropriate application tools. Such organizations have also made scalable savings with server deployment and the implementation of a shared storage solution to meet their information management needs. Virtualization also represents also a viable option for businesses not having completed yet their streamlining initiatives, and therefore adding a level of complexity to their infrastructure s migration. In general, virtualization strategies emerge from a rationalization process and the need for a consolidation solution. Businesses need to find a solution to their environment s increasing complexity which interferes with its adaptability and capacity problems arise as a result from the clustering of multiple production systems in a single location. The cost of acquiring new physical space to expand data centers can become prohibitive. On one hand, the growing energy needs increase costs while the cooling of multiple hard drives and fans raises a new problem. On the other hand, rationalization is not necessarily a synonym for efficiency. In many cases, servers are only used at 10 or 20% of their capacity. Also, the storage power used is twice as important as the actual required needs. Finally, many businesses need to resolve complex migration issues when their data centers physical capacity reaches a critical level. In terms of meeting user needs, automated office equipment and operating systems must be replaced to take charge of the new software solutions users need. Even if there is an unprecedented variety of standard software suites on the market from which users can choose, they have come to expect more customized software. Therefore, virtualization provides businesses with true benefits and more effective options to meet users needs.

3 A unified approach to virtualization With the increasing demand for IT resources, IT managers are turning to virtualization to solve three major types of problems: applications delivery, server consolidation and storage devices procurement. Applications Delivery Options for delivering applications are mainly focused on finding the most effective method to provide users with application solutions. Ideally, the delivery method retained must the delivery of an application, the supply of appropriate software patches as well as a quick and efficient replacement according to evolving business needs. Three basic approaches in terms of architecture compete to solve this problem: Delivering server-based applications Virtual workstation Distribution of applications and workstation tools Delivering server-based applications Until now, this approach represented the classic solution to make applications available to PC users. This delivery mode is based on a shared server farm on which applications are installed and from which they are made available to clients. Although this approach requires users to log on to servers to access applications, it also allows them to proceed quickly when changing applications.. As the simultaneous execution of certain applications combined on the same server can cause compatibility problems, application server solutions are often implemented in silos to avoid such conflicts. Because of the increasing number in silos, we are back to step one. Virtual workstations Virtual workstations are based on server virtualization in order to provide an isolated and centralized workstation environment. This means that when a user logs on to a virtual office server, he has access to a working environment with Windows XP/Vista/7/ or Linux and to all applications. All of the applications requested by the user are located on the same virtual workstation. Like the previous one, this approach offers the organization s IT department a simple way to maintain applications while serving a diverse community of users. Conflicts are minimized because each virtual workstation image represents a range of unique virtual workstation solutions designed for a specific user. In the end, it eliminates management problems because software patches must be applied to files and electronic virtual offices, as in the case of individual PC systems or laptops. Applications and workstation tools distribution A third approach consists in providing each application as a separate entity and run this application in a protected operating environment on the user s desktop or access device. Unlike the first two architectures, application distribution operates the processor and display drivers to run each local application. This solution is particularly well suited for workers who need to access advanced computer resources or users working offline. Users need to log on to the server in order to access the application. From then on, occasional connections with the server will be sufficient to allow users to validate their license or check the availability of a newer version of the application. A validation mechanism of this sort provides the organization with the ability to disable the application once the software use period is expired. The combination of application distribution to two methods of software delivery adds an additional level of flexibility. With this scenario, applications grouped in other software suites are distributed on the virtual workstation. This approach allows to manage the applications and the virtual access method separately. Server consolidation The current market for x86 virtualization technologies is evolving rapidly while major providers are launching new tools and are working to develop new standards. However, if a server farm needs to be replaced or upgraded, or data center sprawl needs to be managed, virtualization can help make substantial savings and result in a quick return on investment. Therefore, implementing server virtualization technologies should be considered. In addition to short-term benefits representing a reduction in energy requirements and improve server utilization, organizations will benefit in the long term from virtualization and the flexible allocation of computing resources. Development activities and application testing will enhance businesses ability to launch new services and applications. Over the next 18 months, major suppliers will be competing over the power of management tools and virtual environment support designed by their customers. Among these tools are solutions that leverage virtual environments to provide user-friendly backup services, cutover and load relief supplies as well as quick and effective procurement becoming essential elements to differentiate suppliers, not to mention the optimization of the disk space being used that seems to be less in demand. Storage supply The next step to be completed on the way to streamlining is the review benefits and disadvantages of virtualization technologies with regard to thin provisioning, archiving, hierarchized storage and the potential they offer to simplify storage supply. Thin provisioning: key to just-in-time approach Thin provisioning includes technology solutions that offer just-in-time

4 provisioning storage capacity for servers and applications. Instead of supplying storage capacity based on anticipated needs for the entire lifecycle of the infrastructure, it is possible to perform virtual provisioning, to improve service capabilities as needed or voluntarily overestimate the physical capacity of storage for an application by specifying that its storage capacity is greater than the drives physical capacity. Hardware can be added to increase the initial allocated and logical storage capacity, as the used capacity approaches the facilities physical capacity. Archiving: flexibility for data recovery Archiving consists in implementing data classification techniques that help determine which data must be available for specific users and for a certain period of time. Data access is ensured by virtualized services designed in such a way that the person recovering data ignores or does not need to know the identity or location of the physical storage device where the data is stored. Therefore, data can be stored on a primary, secondary or tertiary storage device such a tape drive or a public storage service. Archiving can be used to support various functions including compliance, cost avoidance and mobile services. Hierarchized storage optimizes speed required to access most valuable data Hierarchized storage takes advantage of different levels of potentially heterogeneous storage to save data that users mostly access from storage devices providing the highest levels of performance, and least frequently retrieved data from older or less expensive storage resources. Virtualization technologies facilitate migration while avoiding any disruption within production environments, thereby reducing the risks of system failures. Another benefit commonly associated with storage virtualization is that the virtualization layer (heterogeneous storage devices) adds a centralized point of control that simplifies the storage infrastructure s management. Therefore, administrators can perform their usual tasks more easily than if they had to use tools from multiple vendors. One of the specific advantages of network storage virtualization NAS (file virtualization) is the fact that virtualization technology eliminates the representation of underlying storage devices to show only one unified name domain, that is to say a single directory for all available file storage resources. Hence, administrators use a single point of management for all storage resources. For nearly 10 years now, the major suppliers within the market have been developing full support technologies for the virtualization of heterogeneous storage environments. Their efforts have however been limited by the computer chips level of performance, which do not support the storage capacity s growth. The out-of-band virtualization, although a possibility in theory, did not provide the scalability required to address problems associated with various input/output configurations. Another option is the in-band storage virtualization that may also present certain restrictions in terms of performance depending on the chosen technology or the virtual load. In addition, it requires full interoperability of the various components based on standards, an obstacle not always easy to bypass. Instead of developing end-to-end configurations, other providers implement virtualization in the background of storage devices clusters, based on interoperability specifications between a cluster and a sub-cluster. Although these are all efficient technologies, Metafore can help determine which best meets your current and future needs. We must keep in mind that because virtualization allows a more efficient allocation of storage resources, it can reduce the growth rate in storage needs. Thus, a skilfully implemented virtualization project will help increase the utilization rate of current storage facilities as well as reduce equipment storage s future capital assets..

5 Get ready to virtualize your infrastructure Virtualization helps organizations improve the flexibility of their IT infrastructure to leverage their IT resources and achieve their business objectives. Virtualization is not only limited to an initiative aimed at reducing costs. Ideally, the implementation of a virtualization project should enable IT professionals to reduce the number of hours they spend on maintenance for them to focus on more value-added activities such as application development and planning strategies. The first step towards virtualization is to define your most urgent needs to know if they relate to storage, applications or network optimization. No matter the needs, the starting point is conducting a basic inventory of the business IT assets. After compiling this data, the IT infrastructure s TCO can be assessed and a virtualization report can be developed. Your implementation plan must be directly related to your business objectives and include measurements that promote its achievement. Furthermore, it must clearly define performance expectations in the short and long term in view of increasing the organization s resilience, efficiency and innovative capacity.. The success of a virtualization project requires much more than product and service offerings. The organization s staff needs to have the skills and tools to manage and support the virtualized environment. If you are wondering where to start, here are some questions that may help you: What type of virtualization is best for my business? What aspects should I consider when transitioning to a virtualized environment? Server virtualization Workstation virtualization Application virtualization Storage virtualization Network virtualization Security environment Which platform best fits my needs? How soon can I expect the return on investments? Looking for information on issues surrounding a virtualization project? Metafore supports organizations throughout the implementation of various virtualization technologies. Contact your consultant. Management environment About Metafore Metafore has been delivering IT solutions to private and public sector organizations of every size for more than 25 years. With a team of more than 1000 associates, operations throughout Canada, and access to a network of certified technical resources from coast to coast, Metafore is one of Canada s leading information technology solution providers. Metafore designs, supplies, installs and supports IT infrastructure solutions that contribute to improved productivity, operational efficiency, and overall business performance. For more information, please visit For more information on Metafore solutions and services, contact us at:

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