Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Virtualization

It has been quite a while since I last wrote a post- my work schedule is pretty crazy, and I was often falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I'm planning on my next article, but until then, here is a great entry on Virtualization from my brother Michael. He is incredibly smart and knowledgeable about computers- you could call him the expert networker! Here we go:



Virtualization (or When you ride alone, you ride with your local utility company! DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN)

Greetings readers, I am the Not-quite-so-novice Networker, you can just call me Mike. I am Caitlin's favorite younger brother (or not, I dunno she may be telling everyone she knows that I suck more than a Electrolux or somethin'). Anyway I am here to introduce in a interesting manner technologies, issues, and software that you will eventually need to get familiar with should you actually like all this computer fixing and head down the dark path full of headache, silliness, and (justified) paranoia and get a full time IT job. The key words here being "interesting" (I'm allergic to writing boring articles, just thinking about it makes me sneeze) and "introduce" (You know what else I'm allergic to? Besides Rocky Mountain Cedar and cats? Writing long complicated articles, I'll crack open the door for you, you'll have to enter it yourself, I'll provide some handy links for you so that you can learn more though).Anyway let’s get started.

Let me start with a topic that is close to my heart, and when I mean close to my heart, I mean I have been frantically studying ever since my company committed tens of thousands of dollars towards and expects me to maintain and fix (That’s one thing Entry-Level  IT workers need to have, the ability to hit the ground running on most new technologies on little notice, training is for old, important people) and that is Virtualization. So what is Virtualization you ask, well let’s start with how things generally are now.

If you follow best practices (and you should), you generally have one server for each application your network provides, whether that be providing mail to your users or web sites or file storage, it doesn’t matter if you have several servers doing the exact application (for redundancy) or having multiple servers working together on one application (which is clustering), so long as that server is doing just that application (doing otherwise would make problem much more serious as they’ll effect more than one application). However nowadays servers are pretty powerful (and expensive) and simply having them do just one thing is a waste of energy and money. So what do we do? We virtualize, that’s what!

Virtualization takes a server’s software, separates it from the hardware that it connects to, and turns it into a mobile package called a virtual machine, which can be transferred between servers, restarted, duplicated, among other things at will. A powerful server running what is called a hypervisor can run several of these virtual machines at once, splitting the server’s resources efficiently between all of them. You can consider it similar to the concept of carpooling, having 4 people drive 4 cars to 4 destinations is a waste of gas and money, having 4 people drive in one car to their destinations is far more efficient. Only in this case, should the car decide to spontaneously explode, all of the passengers can hop into the car next to them going at the same speed and continue on without a single delay.

Wanna know more about this technology? (You should!) Then check out these links:

VMware: www.vmware.com , the leader in Virtualization at the moment, their website provides all sorts of information on virtualization, as well as free software so you can give this virtualization stuff a try yourself!

Microsoft: www.microsoft.com/virtualization/en/us/default.aspx , Microsoft also is in the virtualization business, however their Hyper-V isn’t as popular as VMware’s vSphere. Still worth a look, though.

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtualization , Good place to go to learn about all the various things virtualization is used for.

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