Server Virtualization Myths -- 10 to Debunk

By Kenneth Hess (Send Email)
Posted Jul 22, 2010


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Virtualization has an ever-growing worldwide fan base, but it is not without its detractors. Those who oppose server virtualization are quick to tick off a list "problems" with the technology. These 10 myths perpetuate suspicion and paranoia for those considering a switch to a virtual infrastructure. Some of these myths were true a few short years ago but have since been put to rest by better technology, mature software and vendor competition.

1. Server Virtualization Is Too Expensive

Myths about technology are often difficult to burst, and few are more trying than those concerning server virtualization.

Some server virtualization solutions are more expensive than others, but some solutions, such as Red Hat's Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), have fixed, predictable subscription costs that take the uncertainty out of budget concerns and projections. Often, the primary goal of virtualization is to save money by leveraging high-end hardware using multiple virtual systems to spread the costs among those systems. Server virtualization will save money, if executed correctly. Correct execution involves careful planning and prudent technology selection.

2. Virtual Machines are Less Secure

Security concerns abound when speaking of virtualization. The truth is virtualization is no more or less secure than other server-based technologies. It's certainly no less secure than physical server systems. Some negative rhetoric originates from virtualization's need for a host OS. Typical host OSes are bare bones Linux installations for which you have to manually set up Secure Shell (SSH). This means the host OS is very secure since it runs few, if any, standard network services.

3. Reported Consolidation Ratios are Bloated

This myth depends on the type of virtualization method you're discussing and what numbers you've had quoted to you. A realistic consolidation ratio of underutilized physical systems to appropriately sized and utilized virtual systems is 3-to-1. The 3-to-1 ratio refers to fully virtualized systems, not container-type virtualization where ratios can exceed 10-to-1. When considering virtualization, consolidation ratios are but one statistical pixel in virtualization's big picture.

4. Server Virtualization is Difficult to Learn and Support

Virtualization leverages standard skill sets from enterprise support staff: Linux, Unix and Windows services change little in a virtual infrastructure. The skills required to support a physical environment easily transfer to the new virtual environment. Virtualized OSes behave much like their physical counterparts.

5. Server Virtualization Complicates System Management

Virtualized infrastructures, by design, are less complicated than their physical cousins. A single management interface comes standard with any virtual platform. From this single interface, an administrator can view system consoles, create backups, reboot or shut down systems, change hardware and fully manage dissimilar OSes.

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