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Virtualise Everything?

by posted in Virtualisation

With the recent announcement of the impending launch of vSphere 5.0, VMware’s industry leading virtualisation platform, the question needs to be asked – is it possible to virtualise everything?

Here at UKFast we often come across scepticism when it comes to virtualising high usage systems. The current virtual machine configuration maximums in VMware vSphere 4.1 have proven restrictive in some larger deployments, to the extent that a traditional physical server deployment is the only viable option.

VMware vSphere 5.0 has the potential to revolutionise the service provider market, with virtual machine capabilities that are up to four times more powerful than previous versions of vSphere. The fixed limitations and hurdles that usually encumber cloud computing discussions could be a thing of the past, exciting times indeed for both UKFast and our customers.

Surveys suggest the vast majority of Enterprise IT Leaders consider cloud computing to be a priority in the next 18 months, so it appears vSphere 5.0 will arrive at an opportune moment to capitalise on a market that is increasing at a phenomenal rate.

vSphere 5.0 - virtualisation growth

Working as a Solutions Architect in the UKFast Enterprise division, my vision is to see continued uptake of virtualisation. The ability to have a highly available, redundant server infrastructure is critical for most companies, the golden 99.999% server uptime that becomes a reality with a cloud platform.

In certain circumstances a physical server just isn’t a good virtualisation candidate. More often than not, the raw compute required to serve some of our larger customers simply isn’t available. To compound my frustrations, we’ve been part of the VMware vSphere Beta program (under NDA) since May 2011. Having first hand visibility of the increased vSphere 5 capabilities and not being able to leverage these technologies for our customers has been trying to say the least.

The most noteworthy new or upgraded features in vSphere 5.0:

  • vSphere Storage DRS – New feature for vSphere 5.
  • vSphere vMotion – Optimised for higher latency networks.
  • Virtual Machine Version 8 – Support for 3D graphics and USB 3.0 devices.
  • Larger Virtual Machines  – 32vCPU, 1TB of RAM, 2TB+ VM Disk size
  • vSphere Network I/O Control – I/O control at the VM level allowing more-granular control
  • VMware vCenter Server Appliance – Linux based vCenter virtual appliance, quick and simple vCenter server deployment.

In answer to my original question,” is it possible to virtualise everything?”

Well, aside for the ever-present bad virtualisation candidates, the percentage of physical servers that can now be virtualised has increased dramatically. As confidence in cloud infrastructure increases, alongside the huge technological leaps forward in the vSphere 5.0 virtualisation platform, the potential to virtualise everything is becoming more of a reality with each passing day.


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