Data centers are important to our daily life and work. However, in traditional data centers, engineers are struggling with the need to use multiple tools to maintain the data center management, like provisioning, managing and monitoring server, which is complex, expensive, inefficient and labor-intensive. Is there any better method to solve those problems and improve data center? The answer is virtualization. A modern data center is considered to be the future of the data center, which is known as virtual data center.
A traditional data center is built by adding more compute, more storage and more networking, while a virtual data center is a data center that operates using virtualization technology which partitions a single physical server into multiple operating systems and applications, thereby emulating multiple servers, known as virtual machines (VMs). In other words, in a virtual data center all the infrastructure is virtualized and the control of the hardware configuration is automated through intelligent software system. This is the largest difference between the traditional and virtual data centers as well as one of the outstanding advantages of virtual data center.
As mentioned that data center virtualization is considered as the trend of the future data center. But what can virtual data center provide? What’s the advantages of virtual data center compared with the traditional one? The main abilities and advantages of virtual data center are illustrated in this part.
Cost Saving: it is known that hardware is usually the highest cost in data center. The development of the traditional data center depends on hardware and storage. Except the cost of hardware, the management and maintenance of the hardware are largely depend on labor operation of which the cost would go well beyond that of hardware. Thus, with virtual data center, the costs would be cut largely.
Easier Management and Maintenance: in traditional data center, things like heat dissipation, physical server, data backup and testing should be considered. And a lot of labor work and money has gone into these part of daily management and maintenance. Virtualize the servers using less physical hardware, less heat would be generated. The backup steps would be much easier in a virtual data center operated by software. Both full backups and snapshots of the virtual server and virtual machines can be done and these VMs can be moved from one server to another easier and faster. As to testing, with virtual data center the testing environments can be isolated from end users while keeping them online. When you’ve perfected your work, deploy it as live.
Faster Recovery: if the a physical server dies, the redeployment might need a lot of time. However, with virtualization, the redeploy can occur within minutes with just a few clicks. Facing disaster, if the data center is virtualized, with up-to-date snapshots of your VMs, you can quickly get back up and running. With virtual data center, a host of issues go away.
Closer to Cloud: with virtual machines, you will be closer to enjoying a Cloud environment. You may even reach the point where you can deploy VMs to and from your data center to create a powerful cloud-based infrastructure. But beyond the actual virtual machines, that virtualization technology gets you closer to a cloud-based mindset, making the migration all the more easy.
These outstanding benefits are the main factors that drive the trend of data center to virtualization. However, to take full advantages of the virtual data center, many challenges are ahead, like security, allocating resources, maximizing investments in infrastructure. One of the most conspicuous challenges is bandwidth. As mentioned, virtual data center is automated through intelligent software system, which need the support of high bandwidth. Currently 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) is now being widely adopted which could be a good choice for a storage access network. However, there might be potential blocks in the journey to virtual data center with 10GbE. To fully realized the benefits of a virtualized environment, the implementation for 40/100 GbE is recommended as the first step to virtualization. Currently, more vendors are supplying solutions for 40/100GbE. The cost of 40/100GbE is decreasing in a foreseen future. The increased traction of 40/100GbE has led to its best practice status as the standard for the next generation of high-bandwidth virtualized application.
The trend of the data center virtualization is clear with great benefits and potential application that virtual data center can bring to us. 40/100GbE is just the first step of the journey to virtual data center, barriers like security and resources are there to be broken down.