In the final part of this series (part 1 and part 2), we will discuss the role integration plays in virtualization, resource utilization, and storage solutions. As system virtualization evolves rapidly into a common business practice, the close-fitting integration between virtualized systems and physical storage becomes more and more critical.
Many storage vendors and virtualization software companies picked up on this trend early on, and continue collaborations with one another to generate better storage APIs so businesses can reap the full advantages of virtualization on an enterprise level. These APIs assimilate storage with virtualization, allowing both to communicate more efficiently and ultimately designate each task to the more appropriate platform. This results in an organizational benefit that is quantifiable by increased systems performance, scalability, and stability.
Of course, the virtualization of storage is only as good as the physical hardware that sits behind it. Earlier, we talked about the benefits of solid state media over mechanical disk; however, this is only part of what constitutes a robust, and effective virtualized solution. You also need to ensure that the hardware which provides processing power and memory resources is up to par. For instance, if you have multiple servers in your environment with dissimilar specifications, most hypervisors will only function at the level of the lowest variable- hence the saying, ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.’ Therefore, designing a well-rounded, consistent virtual infrastructure is imperative.
Beyond storage and resource efficiency, a good hypervisor also needs to offer solid networking capabilities that can integrate with multifaceted enterprise networks. Virtual networking allows you to configure VMs, hosts, and virtual storage in the same fashion as a physical network topology. Virtual switching allows for guest machines on the same, or disparate hosts to interconnect with one another using identical protocols that are used over physical switches, eliminating the need for additional hardware. Hypervisors should also offer virtual switching that supports VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) that are multi-vendor compatible, as well as virtual Ethernet adapters that can possess their own IP and MAC addresses independently.
In conclusion, a virtual environment that is well-integrated, highly scalable, and designed with as much consistency as possible is generally the most efficient and reliable type of infrastructure. Also, when virtual systems have practically the same characteristics as physical entities from a resource, networking, and storage perspective, it makes the management and maintenance of the infrastructure much easier. From a business standpoint, this cuts down on costs, remediation time, and the need for additional staff.