How Virtualization Can Make You an IT Powerhouse

Abstract

With shrinking IT budgets and expanding deliverables, smart businesses are increasingly deploying virtualization to bring down capital expenses and make operations more agile, responsive, and aligned with business needs. Virtualization drives efficiency into IT processes and brings in better interoperability, manageability, and security. Operating in a challenging and versatile business environment makes the business case for virtualization even more compelling.

Virtualization is the Way Forward

Companies are under enhanced pressure to reduce costs while supporting business agility. More and more businesses are turning towards virtualization as a means to not just lower costs and increase the availability of their infrastructure, but also to give end-users improved service levels and enhanced agility by responding proactively to fast-changing business needs. Virtualization provides an approach to pooling and sharing IT resources to meet business expectations and moving organizations closer to dynamic IT.

Microsoft’s comprehensive approach and VMware are unique to the industry as they deliver solutions that address virtualization at the hardware, application, and management levels. This whitepaper illustrates how virtualization solutions can help organizations move towards a dynamic IT environment and help them achieve better business value coupled with increased availability and business agility.

The paper also takes an in-depth look at unique approaches to virtualization and how it offers businesses a choice when moving to completely virtualized infrastructure, from desktop to the data center.

Key Drivers of Virtualization

Virtualization transforms how companies examine and deliver IT in their organization—how technology is managed, purchased, deployed, and strategized. Virtualization, along with integrated management, allows IT to treat the applications they provide as services instead of distinct servers and operating systems. For instance, in the data center, companies focus on how best to deliver services to meet their customers’ demands and expectations. At the desktop level, IT departments are focused on optimizing the experience for the end-user in consuming services they provide regardless of the user’s location, connectivity, or device.

Server virtualization has gone mainstream and has become a central tool to reduce hardware costs, improve server management, and reduce data center power consumption. It has enabled data center professionals to automate multiple server tasks, such as the provisioning and configuration of applications and operating environments they run on. Many IT divisions have also begun to focus on enhancing desktop flexibility by evaluating and deploying virtual desktop infrastructure. Alongside these trends, the emergence of cloud computing has become one of the hottest topics in the world of technology.

As IT departments strive to become more efficient, they need to provide their users with access to resources anywhere, anytime. Virtualization provides the most practical and comprehensive solutions in the market today—from desktop and data center to the cloud—providing customers with a clear roadmap and vision on how they can move towards a dynamic IT environment.

Enabling Dynamic IT with Virtualization

Dynamic IT is a long-term strategy for providing critical technologies that allow IT and development functions to become fundamental to overall business objectives. It calls for creating an IT strategy that acts as an enabler for enhancing business effectiveness in a rapidly changing environment. This is made possible by ramping up the capability and efficiency of people, processes, and IT infrastructure. It helps customers to achieve continuous innovation with unified and virtualized, process-led and model-driven, user-focused, and service-enabled IT infrastructure.

Virtualization delivers an environment that helps organizations anticipate and respond to ever-changing business challenges and opportunities, and is a key enabler for making IT more dynamic and efficient.

Virtualization Fuels Cloud Computing

Virtualization is also a crucial enabler for cloud computing—more specifically for IaaS and PaaS. Given its growing importance and the economies that are fueling this trend, Microsoft helps make cloud computing a reality by offering Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The consolidation of virtual machine resources represents the next wave of change.

Cloud computing is changing the software landscape by presenting new ways to develop, deliver, and deploy applications and IT services. This shift in technology can lead to a number of benefits—the ability to scale up and down as per business needs, reduce upfront costs in implementing new services and applications, and become more responsive to changing market conditions. As part of its dynamic IT vision, many vendors are offering new service lines to enable private clouds and for hosting partners to enable public clouds.

Virtualization from the Desktop and Data Center to the Cloud

Virtualization offers a host of end-to-end comprehensive solutions that organizations can deploy as they increase their business agility and reduce IT costs. Microsoft’s journey from virtualization to the cloud can be combined together to provide an end-to-end suite of virtualization products and technologies tied together by unique integrated management solutions.

Virtualization provides a dynamic foundation for your data center infrastructure. It allows businesses to deliver dynamic resource allocations to services when needed, as well as reduce operating costs and improve service levels. Optimized desktop scenarios give your business the ability to choose optimal desktop experience best suited to your users’ needs. Employees can receive flexible access anytime, anywhere, through any device, with improved productivity and reduced cost.

The Microsoft System Center gives you unparalleled integrated management functionality for your physical and virtual environments, all the way through the application layer. It is the only solution that lets you manage Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines, through one console. Microsoft cloud technologies deliver solutions that allow enterprises to move towards a private cloud within their existing data centers and enable the journey to a public cloud environment. With Microsoft cloud strategy, you can now deploy cloud computing models with confidence. This new paradigm will help you move seamlessly toward dynamic IT.

How Virtualization Can Transform Your IT
Better Value
Businesses can stretch their dollar, lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and ensure the best return on investment through virtualization. This is made possible by:

•    Reduced power consumption and data center space
•    Increased hardware utilization
•    Lower upfront costs, including licensing fees
•    Simplified application and desktop lifecycle management
•    Reduced operational costs for maintenance and training
•    Optimized use of skills already in place and purchased capabilities

Increased Availability

Microsoft virtualization gives businesses the opportunity to increase the availability of services, thereby increasing end-user satisfaction. With virtualization, you can increase availability by:

•    Improving service levels
•    Minimizing disruption to services
•    Enhancing desktop business continuity
•    Providing access to applications regardless of location
•    Reducing application and user data deployment time

Virtualization helps businesses become more flexible and adaptable. IT departments can get resources when they need them and improve business agility by:

•    Integrating physical, virtual, and application management
•    Accelerating responses to changing business needs
•    Performing flexible desktop deployments
•    Easily migrating to a new version of Windows®
•    Providing capacity on demand

Simplify Operations and Processes with Virtualization

  • Less Complexity with Unified Physical, Virtual, and Application Management


The more you virtualize, the more complex your environment can become. This makes it extremely critical to have in place a comprehensive management system to ensure a cost-effective, dynamic infrastructure. Different solutions are available that let you easily manage your applications, physical machines, and provide both host and in-guest management of virtual machines—all through one integrated suite of tools.

  • Better Value for the Same Investment


Virtualization solutions are proven to save more and cost less. These services help you dramatically lower TCO and realize the greatest ROI by streamlining multiple data center and desktop management tasks, allowing you to take advantage of your existing Windows® expertise.

  • Proven Built-in Virtualization
     

Virtualized infrastructure consists of three critical computing layers—hardware, operating system, and applications. Virtualization is simply a role within Windows®. When you use Microsoft virtualization solutions, your IT team already has the knowledge and tools needed to administer a virtualized environment. There is no need to additionally manage an extra layer and pay a virtualization tax to get the functionality you require.

What Makes Virtualization Unique?

Driven by heightened competition, IT organizations must deliver efficient use of IT resources and provide the services their business units require effectively with zero downtime. Datacenter virtualization solutions provide a fluid pool of resources managed through the virtualization platform that can dynamically reallocate services and applications between servers. Clear and immediate benefits include increased server utilization, reduced operating costs, and improved service levels.

Reap More Than Saving Costs and Increasing Utilization

With data center virtualization, a company can decrease costs and increase utilization through server consolidation, allowing IT teams to consolidate multiple, underutilized, or ineffective physical servers into a smaller pool of servers for optimization. Once these virtualized environments are stored on a shared storage device, such as a Fiber Channel or iSCSI SAN, companies can enhance agility by allowing resources to dynamically shift between physical infrastructures, with changing needs.

Applications Get the Resources They Need When They Need Them

Utilities and techniques monitor live migration to seamlessly move a workload from one physical server to another with no disruption. These utilities and techniques can monitor specific elements of the infrastructure, whether it is the physical hardware, the virtualization layer, or the applications and services. As the health of the monitored element changes, the utilities take action on the virtualization layer or the infrastructure to resolve the issue. This enables applications to get the resources they need when they need them.

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Transparent Monitoring for the Entire Virtualization Stack

Integrated management capabilities help lower the cost of delivering data center services through integrated, end-to-end management of physical and virtual environments. Customers are able to standardize their data center management environment at significantly lower costs while implementing best practices that can deliver thousands of dollars of operational savings each year. This is made possible through simplified management of the data center via an integrated set of tools that automate server management and optimize the use of server and data center resources. For example, PRO Tips provides the capability to monitor the entire virtualization stack—not only monitoring the virtual layer, but also the physical and application layers inside. System Center with PRO Tips provides the capability to react according to triggers in the virtualized environment, such as resource usage, response latency, or storage capacity. When PRO Tips are enacted, System Center Virtual Machine Manager takes action on the virtualized environment. Virtual Machine Manager may move a Virtual Machine (VM) to another box or deploy a new virtual environment, or perhaps dynamically expand a LUN. These capabilities help to dynamically redistribute resources evenly, or correct current hardware conditions, and make decisions about how the resources should be leveraged.

Effective and Seamless Site Recovery

Working together with partners, Microsoft provides unique site recovery solutions. Organizations can utilize virtualization to decrease the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) for a site recovery plan. With virtualization implementation being low in cost, organizations can provide site recovery capabilities to more applications and services than before. By utilizing multi-site clustering, Microsoft Site Recovery solutions can support the capabilities that allow the desired VMs to move over to another site in case of a site failure. When site failure has been resolved, you can simply resynchronize data back to the original site and the failed workloads back to the primary site through long-distance live migration or fail-back operation on the cluster node, simplifying the failback process.

Stay Ahead of Competition with Virtualization

Virtualization allows hardware to be optimized for capacity, computing prowess, connectivity, and business continuity across the entire IT infrastructure. By moving the infrastructure to a virtual environment, any changes or disruptions can be handled online with minimal impact on servers, networks, and storage. Today, virtualization has become an important strategic decision given the benefits—lower TCO, increased efficiency, site recovery, and agility. However, in order to maximize gains from their virtualization efforts, businesses must take steps to mitigate risks by tight management—having a well-documented business process and impenetrable audit capabilities. It is also critical to note that virtualization can be deployed in an incremental fashion. It is equally critical to partner with a technology provider who has deep expertise and experience in virtualization.