The Science Behind Virtual Servers
The use of virtualization is growing more important in the world of technology as people are beginning to see how it can work more efficiently to use processing power and lower overall IT costs. The concept of virtualization and using virtual servers may be unfamiliar to those accustomed to traditional infrastructures.
Virtualization is basically a way to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single server to take full advantage of its processing power. Virtualization makes infrastructures simpler and more efficient, allowing applications to deploy faster and performance and availability to increase. Virtual servers are appealing because they can create IT that is easier and less expensive to own and manage.
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Everyone is touting server virtualization as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Is it a worthwhile technology, or just the latest trend?
WHEN IT COMES TO SERVERS, YOU CAN have too much of a good thing. In the past, we needed a different server for every function: internet, e-mail, enterprise resource planning. As a result, the data centers can become overloaded with servers. And each server—because it typically performed only one function, used only a portion of its processing capability. In fact, Microsoft reports that the typical server-utilization rate is about 15 percent, with 85 percent of server capacity going unused.
Then came server virtualization, which allows IT departments to consolidate multiple servers onto one machine. Essentially, server virtualization is efficiency in computing. And that one machine uses up to 90 percent of its capability.
Every server needs to be patched or maintained, which takes a lot of time. A virtual machine has a better-defined environment, so it’s easier to care for server-based applications.
In addition, buying and configuring a new server every time a professor asks for a new website, for instance, is a poor use of time and resources. Ordering and then installing a new server can take up to six weeks. With virtualization, there is no new hardware each time. I can add to an existing server and be up and running in three hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is virtualization?Open or Close
Virtualization is a way to run several independent virtual operating systems on a single physical computer. It is a way of maximizing physical resources and, in turn, maximizing the investment in hardware.
What does Virtual Server mean?Open or Close
A virtual server is a server that shares hardware and software resources with other operating systems (OS), versus dedicated servers. Because they are cost-effective and provide faster resource control, virtual servers are popular in Web hosting environments.
Ideally, a virtual server mimics dedicated server functionalities. Rather than implement multiple dedicated servers, several virtual servers may be implemented on one server.
Each virtual server is designated a separate OS, software and independent reboot provisioning. In a virtual server environment for Web hosting, website administrators or Internet service providers (ISP) may have different domain names, IP addresses, email administration, file directories, logs and analytics. Additionally, security systems and passwords are maintained as if they were in a dedicated server environment. To reduce Web hosting costs, server software installation provisioning is often available.
An overflow of virtual servers in a physical machine may lead to resource hogging, and if a virtual server uses more resources than another, performance issues usually result.
What does Application Virtualization mean?Open or Close
Application virtualization, also called application service virtualization, is a term under the larger umbrella of virtualization. It refers to running an application on a thin client; a terminal or a network workstation with few resident programs and accessing most programs residing on a connected server. The thin client runs in an environment separate from, sometimes referred to as being encapsulated from, the operating system where the application is located.
Application virtualization fools the computer into working as if the application is running on the local machine, while in fact it is running on a virtual machine (such as a server) in another location, using its operating system (OS), and being accessed by the local machine. Incompatibility problems with the local machine’s OS, or even bugs or poor quality code in the application, may be overcome by running virtual applications.
What is Server Virtualization?Open or Close
Typical enterprise data centers contain a huge number of servers. Many of these servers sit idle as the workload is distributed to only some of the servers on the network. This results in a waste of expensive hardware resources, power, maintenance and cooling requirements. Server virtualization attempts to increase resource utilization by partitioning physical servers into several multiple virtual servers, each running its own operating system and applications. Server virtualization makes each virtual server look and act like a physical server, multiplying the capacity of every single physical machine.
The concept of server virtualization is widely applied in IT infrastructure as a way of minimizing costs by increasing the utilization of existing resources. Virtualizing servers is often a good solution for small- to medium-scale applications. This technology is widely used for providing cost-effective web hosting services.
What can You use a Virtual Private Servers (VPS) for?Open or Close
Running A Website
This is the most obvious and popular use. Since virtual private servers provide more resources for your website (e.g. CPU, RAM, etc.) than shared hosting, you’ll find that your website feels more responsive. Plus, with full control over the virtual server, you can install and remove software at will according to your needs rather than being stuck with what the host offers.
Hosting A Server
Have you ever wanted to run your own Minecraft server? Or maybe you need a private Mumble host for your friends to chat on? Or if you’re leaning more towards business uses, you could use a VPS for hosting files and other media. Basically, anything that runs as a server can be run on a VPS.
Testing New Environments
Since dedicated hosting is so expensive, virtual servers can be used as testing grounds for server setups that aren’t ready for live deployment. They can also be useful for quick exploration and testing of new components: operating systems, frameworks, software, etc.
Also known as a seedbox, you can use a virtual server strictly for torrenting purposes. If you torrent frequently, moving all of that action to a remote VPS not only frees up a lot of home bandwidth, but it also allows you to keep it going 24/7.
The leftover disk space in a VPS plan can be used to store private backups of important files. It’s cheaper to use cloud-based storage from a price-per-gigabyte perspective, but if you’re already using a VPS for some other reason and you have leftover space, you might as well think of it as free file storage.
What are the pros and cons?Open or Close
Without a doubt, the greatest advantage of server virtualization is cost. In addition to energy savings and lower capital expenses due to more efficient use of your hardware resources, you get high availability of resources, better management, and improved disaster-recovery processes with a virtual infrastructure. You save on physical space, reduce power consumption and the need for cooling, and are able to rapidly deploy a new application without ordering new hardware.
As for cons, if the virtualized server were to go offline, every site that the server is hosting would also fail. Most enterprises use a cluster or some other technique to prevent such outages. Also, security has not yet been perfected.
Hardware is going to fail; that’s the nature of the beast. But virtualization means that instead of losing a day’s worth of work, Trinity’s tech staff can be proactive instead of reactive. “All in all, it’s a great stress reliever and time-management tool”.