Virtualization is becoming mainstream in the IT industry, but for most people outside the industry, virtualization is yet another buzzword we IT folks use to confuse “normal” people.

On behalf of the entire IT industry, I (Greg Scott, Infrasupport CTO) apologize for our IT acronyms and, ahem, unique language.  In our defense, sometimes we need our unique words and phrases.  Other times, well, …

Virtualization is one of those IT words we really need to use.  It’s real, it’s important, and you should care about it.

Definition:  Virtualization is software pretending to be hardware.

That’s it.  That’s the entire hour long slideshow summed up in one sentence.

Why you should care needs a little bit more text.  The implications are profound.

First, virtualization is not new.  IBM pioneered it in the 1960s and 1970s.  In those days, mainframe computers were horrendously expensive and IBM figured out a way to have many virtual mainframe systems share the same physical system.  So instead of a room full of multimillion dollar mainframe computers, all sitting mostly idle, IBM came up with a way to use one multimillion dollar mainframe host to service many virtual machine guests.  These guest virtual machines pretended to be real hardware, and users of these virtual machines had no clue otherwise.

IBM virtualization represented a major money saver in the early IT industry, and it was a forerunner for many innovations to follow, most based on some form of virtualization.

Today, virtualization is all around us, but very few notice it.   The memory in your computer and cell phone uses virtualization to run apps larger than can be accomodated in physical memory.  The “computer” you’re using to browse this website might be a thin client connected to a virtual workstation in the corporate data center or in a cloud someplace.   Your company web server might be a virtual machine running in an HA cluster so it can survive multiple classes of failures.

Those last couple of sentences need some explanation, but for now, note that the Infrasupport website you’re viewing right now runs in such an environment.

Click here (or on “HA Cluster” above) for an explanation of an HA cluster and why you might want one.  Click here for a discussion about clouds.

Bottom line – why is virtualization important?

  1. Because virtual machines are more flexible than physical machines
  2. Because virtual machines are portable – you can deploy them in several scenarios and quickly redeploy them as conditions change.
  3. Because, when configured properly, virtual machines can be more reliable than physical machines.

Dollars and cents – if downtime costs money, virtualization implemented properly can reduce downtime and save money.  A good virtualization/cloud strategy can also help you ramp up as you need capacity and ramp down when you don’t need it.  This can save significant money for seasonal businesses.

Contact us for a more detailed discussion around what makes sense for you.