Virtualization, Green IT, Whats all the hype?

Save energy, go green
Maybe you aren’t a “save the whales” or “tree hugging” type of person. That’s cool. I don’t wear the T-shirts either. But seriously, who isn’t interested in saving energy in 2014? Migrating physical servers over to virtual machines and consolidating them onto far fewer physical servers means lowering monthly power and cooling costs in the data center. This was an early victory chant for server virtualization vendors back in the early part of 2000, and it still holds true today.

Reduce the data center footprint
This one goes hand in hand with the previous benefit. In addition to saving more of your company’s green with a smaller energy footprint, server consolidation with virtualization will also reduce the overall footprint of your entire data center. That means far fewer servers, less networking gear, a smaller number of racks needed — all of which translates into less data center floor space required. That can further save you money if you don’t happen to own your own data center and instead make use of a co-location facility.

QA/lab environments
After completing a server consolidation exercise in the data center, why not donate that hardware to a QA group or build out a lab environment? Virtualization allows you to easily build out a self-contained lab or test environment, operating on its own isolated network. If you don’t think this is useful or powerful, just look to VMware‘s own trade show, VMworld. This event creates one of the largest public virtual labs I’ve ever experienced, and it truly shows off what you can do with a virtual lab environment. While this is probably way more lab than you’d ever actually need in your own environment, you can see how building something like this would be cost prohibitive with purely physical servers, and in many cases, technologically improbable.

Faster server provisioning
As a data center administrator, imagine being able to provide your business units with near instant-on capacity when a request comes down the chain. Server virtualization enables elastic capacity to provide system provisioning and deployment at a moment’s notice. You can quickly clone a gold image, master template, or existing virtual machine to get a server up and running within minutes. Remember that the next time you have to fill out purchase orders, wait for shipping and receiving, and then rack, stack, and cable a physical machine only to spend additional hours waiting for the operating system and applications to complete their installations. I’ve almost completely forgotten what it’s like to click Next > Next > Next.

Reduce hardware vendor lock-in
While not always a bad thing, sometimes being tied down to one particular server vendor or even one particular server model can prove quite frustrating. But because server virtualization abstracts away the underlying hardware and replaces it with virtual hardware, data center managers and owners gain a lot more flexibility when it comes to the server equipment they can choose from. This can also be a handy negotiating tool with the hardware vendors when the time comes to renew or purchase more equipment.

Increase uptime
Most server virtualization platforms now offer a number of advanced features that just aren’t found on physical servers, which helps with business continuity and increased uptime. Though the vendor feature names may be different, they usually offer capabilities such as live migration, storage migration, fault tolerance, high availability, and distributed resource scheduling. These technologies keep virtual machines chugging along or give them the ability to quickly recover from unplanned outages. The ability to quickly and easily move a virtual machine from one server to another is perhaps one of the greatest single benefits of virtualization with far-reaching uses. As the technology continues to mature to the point where it can do long-distance migrations, such as being able to move a virtual machine from one data center to another no matter the network latency involved, the virtual world will become that much more in demand.

Improve disaster recovery
Virtualization offers an organization three important components when it comes to building out a disaster recovery solution. The first is its hardware abstraction capability. By removing the dependency on a particular hardware vendor or server model, a disaster recovery site no longer needs to keep identical hardware on hand to match the production environment, and IT can save money by buying cheaper hardware in the DR site since it rarely gets used. Second, by consolidating servers down to fewer physical machines in production, an organization can more easily create an affordable replication site. And third, most enterprise server virtualization platforms have software that can help automate the failover when a disaster does strike. The same software usually provides a way to test a disaster recovery failover as well. Imagine being able to actually test and see your failover plan work in reality, rather than hoping and praying that it will work if and when the time comes.

Isolate applications
In the physical world, data centers typically moved to a “one app/one server” model in order to isolate applications. But this caused physical server sprawl, increased costs, and underutilized servers. Server virtualization provides application isolation and removes application compatibility issues by consolidating many of these virtual machines across far fewer physical servers. This also cuts down on server waste by more fully utilizing the physical server resources and by provisioning virtual machines with the exact amount of CPU, memory, and storage resources that it needs.

Extend the life of older applications
Let’s be honest — you probably have old legacy applications still running in your environment. These applications probably fit into one or more of these categories: It doesn’t run on a modern operating system, it may not run on newer hardware, your IT team is afraid to touch it, and chances are good that the person or company who created it is no longer around to update it. By virtualizing and encapsulating the application and its environment, you can extend its life, maintain uptime, and finally get rid of that old Pentium machine hidden in the corner of the data center. You know the one, it’s all covered in dust with fingerprints from administrators long gone and names forgotten.

How do I pay for all this?

Relax, Its actually easier math than you might think. Today’s processors alone require much less power to run as do storage appliance. In fact by purchasing some of today’s newer servers and hardware you will save hundreds and maybe even thousands in power and cooling alone.  Here is how, older servers which ran xeon processors and older as high as 200+ watts per processor, ran us hundreds of dollars to run per month. In fact the average server that is 3-6 years old is costing you on average between $180-$240 per month in comparison to today’s newer faster servers which use less than 60 to 80 watts per processor or less than half on average. They are so much more efficient, that they can muster most of all your applications at the lower end of their draw cycle. Add a few more servers to that equation and you have real money. For those with more than 2-3 servers tack on similar saving in cooling!

Now lets look at software license models from yesterday. A full license of the OS per chassis to sit idle verses the newer models which require one license for a chassis capable of many server instances for one price. Reduced cost of storage and stability, Reduced cost and time for backups. See the picture? Add all this up with the time saved and the flexibility of your newer infrastructure and your on your way! What are you waiting for? Be part of the do more with less attitude.


Green IT

What is Green IT or IT Sustainability

Some people are of the opinion Green IT is a fad…A short lived fancy…Something here today but gone tomorrow….

The reality is Green IT or IT Sustainability refers to the study and practice of using computers and IT resources in a more efficient and environmentally responsible way. Computers and computing eat up a lot of natural resources, from the raw materials needed to manufacture them, the power used to run them, and the problems of disposing them at end of life.

In a nutshell, Green IT or IT Sustainability is composed of two things:

1. Minimising the negative impact of information technology use on the environment

2. Using information technology to help solve environmental issues

As you can see these are almost two areas at opposite poles. In our lives technology helps us to do everything from send a funny joke to our friends, to make sure the trains run on time, to allowing us to warn cities of tsunamis and earthquakes. We need it and it isn’t going away any time soon. On the other hand a typical computer is made up of thousands of chemicals and if we put all the computers in the world together, they use massive amounts of electricity.

How can technology help?

Apart from technology causing some environmental issues, it is also one of the best tools we have available to the human race to help us understand how we can fix environmental issues.

For example, technology can help us achieve things such as climate change modelling. Climate change modelling requires massive computer processing capability. Super-fast computers are sitting in labs across the world calculating scenarios for our future – how much will the sea rise? Which countries would be wiped out? How long will it take?

Another example of technology helping to solve environmental issues is carbon sequestration. But what is carbon sequestration? Well without getting into a science class discussion, it’s really about storing excess carbon. At the moment you probably know that trees store carbon but we simply don’t have enough trees to store all the carbon we produce. So we need to look for other places to store carbon. There are numerous proposals from scientists on how we do this, including storing it underground or in the sea. However before we go drilling places around the world and disturbing the flora and fauna, computers can help identify suitable storage areas – without the unnecessary drilling.