Server virtualization uses a hypervisor to let a host server run several guest VMs. Each VM acts like a full computer with shared access to the host's processing power, storage and other resources. This means that the hypervisor can either run directly on the host hardware or within the host's operating system. Each guest runs within the hypervisor. To the guest operating system, the VM will appear to be a physical computer with whatever system resources the hypervisor makes available.
If your organization uses dedicated servers for each workload, it's likely that those servers are sitting at around 20% utilization most of the time. Virtualization helps you get more out of each dedicated server.
There are three key varieties of server virtualization: Full-, para- and OS-level virtualization. Each of these options uses a hypervisor but in slightly different ways. Check out our hypervisor glossary page to learn more about hypervisors and how they work.
Full virtualization uses hypervisors to divide the host computer into multiple VMs with predefined resources. The hypervisor then communicates with the server to monitor and manage resource usage. A key feature of full virtualization is that the guest machines don't need to be aware of each other's existence in order to work.
Para-virtualization is similar to full virtualization, except that the VMs are aware of each other on the hypervisor. This allows VMs to work together to share resources.
OS-level virtualization is the most basic type of virtualization. Rather than relying on a hypervisor, the VMs are managed by the host's operating system instead. This solution is generally easier to implement and maintain, but it has the drawback of requiring each guest to run the same operating system.
Server virtualization can greatly reduce IT overhead and improve scalability by allowing organizations to deploy virtual servers at will. There are several potential benefits of server virtualization, including:
Server virtualization is a good option for enterprise organizations that require both scalability and flexibility. It offers:
Server virtualization is a useful tool, but it’s not applicable to every use case. Some computing tasks don't require a full VM and the associated overhead that comes with running an additional copy of the operating system. For those cases, container solutions like Docker may be a better choice.
Containers use operating system virtualization to run isolated versions of an application or microservice. They hold the application's code, dependencies and any runtime libraries that are required by the application. Containers are more limited than VMs in that they rely on the same base operating system as the host. However, they offer security benefits compared to simply running the application directly on the host OS while still being a more lightweight option than a full VM.
There are several issues to consider when choosing server virtualization software, including:
If you're considering getting started with server virtualization, start by auditing your existing hardware and your level of resource utilization. If you determine that you have underutilized servers and could benefit from consolidation, you'll need to choose a virtualization solution. Some popular options include:
After selecting your hypervisor, consider whether you'll need other tools to make it easier to manage your VMs. For example, Proxmox and Kimchi are often used with KVM.
In addition, consider how you'll create your VMs. One option is to use tools like Disk2VHD to clone an existing server and convert the drive image into popular virtual hard disk formats. These tools can save you a lot of time compared to manually performing the setup on a VM.
Once you've set up your VMs, test them to ensure they perform well and have full network connectivity. If you encounter any issues, tweak the settings and test again. Finally, set up a regular backup schedule and choose the right backup tools for your platform, so you'll have a current working copy of the VM ready to redeploy in the event of an outage.
If you'd like to know more about Veeam's® backup solutions for VMware and HyperV, contact us today to request a custom demo.
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