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Networking Providers Tout the Virtues of Virtualization

Companies such as Cisco and F5 Networks say virtualization can offer significant energy and cost savings, while reducing carbon footprint, reports TMCnet.com.

Since virtualization allows multiple applications to run on a single server, it significantly reduces the amount of hardware needed, thus reducing energy consumption and lowering the cost of ownership for businesses, according to Manjula Talreja, vice president and global lead for the Cisco/EMC VMware Business Strategic Partner Organization, in the article.

Companies are catching on to the benefits of virtualization. About 35 percent of IT managers used storage virtualization last year, up from 27 percent in 2008, according to the 2009 Energy Efficient IT Report from CDW.

A recent study from Symantec indicates that about 42 percent of IT directors globally said they expect to make significant changes to their data centers in 2010, including server virtualization, as an energy-saving measure.

Industry players, including those at F5 Networks and Pace Harmon, say that virtualization typically enables a company to eliminate about five to ten pieces of equipment and to improve server utilization by as much as 85 percent. They cite that most non-virtualized data centers have under utilized servers, operating at five to 15 percent of their capacity.

The upshot: increased utilization cuts power, cooling, network and storage infrastructure, real estate requirements as well as the carbon footprint of data centers. It can also cut energy use by as much as 50 to 70 percent.

One recent offering designed to deliver lower power consumption while providing operational savings and environmental benefits includes the partnership between Panduit and IBM to implement a Portable Modular Data Center, reports TMCnet. Panduit’s solution enables businesses to conserve data center real estate, manage heat loads, and optimize power and cooling efficiencies.

Another example cited in the article is F5 Network’s solution that can automatically reroute traffic to alternate, working servers if there are problems with the power management service, which shuts down servers.

Extreme Networks told TMCnet.com that managing power more efficiently as part of a virtualization strategy can yield 30 to 40 percent in energy savings.

As an example, Microsoft’s virtualization software has saved some business customers around the world an average of $470,000 annually.

However, IT managers need to start analyzing exactly how power is used in their enterprises in order to take advantage of the latest virtualization tools, according to virtualization software analysts and users, reports SearchOracle.com.

Tony Iams, a virtualization and operating systems analyst with Ideas International told SearchOracle.com that by regularly monitoring metrics on applications and servers and paying close attention to CPU usage, memory usage and disk I/O, companies will be able to leverage the most out of the newest virtualization tools, including moving around virtual machines to lower energy costs.

Oracle VM, VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V are examples of hypervisors that offer what VMware calls “Live Migration,” the ability to proactively shift workloads to fewer physical servers without downtime, reports SearchOracle.com.

Iams said in the article that this live migration function is key to proactively managing power consumption, and with the right management platform, power management could be taken to the next level.

This could mean proactively moving virtual data center workloads from one geographic location to another based on the lowest electricity rates. As an example cited in the article, Virtual Iron’s LivePower gives users the ability to reduce power consumption by dynamically and automatically allocating virtual machines across physical hardware according to demand.

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