Guides Get Down And Dirty With Virtualization Tech - InformationWeek

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2/12/2010
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Guides Get Down And Dirty With Virtualization Tech

Good intermediate-level articles on server virtualization technology can be hard to find. One of the best series that I have read on the subject just added a new installment.

Good intermediate-level articles on server virtualization technology can be hard to find. One of the best series that I have read on the subject just added a new installment.I have occasionally cited ArsTechnica.com in previous posts. The site's greatest strength isn't always its most obvious one: A wealth of detailed, hands-on guides that cover everything from networking and security to do-it-yourself PC assembly.

Some of this content is perfectly suitable for IT novices. Some of it requires at least a passing knowledge of basic concepts and terminology in order to take advantage of it.

The site's three-part series of virtualization guides fall into the second category. If you're new to the subject, then I recommend checking out our own Virtualization How-To Center first; it will give you a solid introduction to the subject and set the stage for conducting more detailed research.

If you're ready (and willing!) to dive into the details, then read on: Virtualization is a key enabling technology for the modern datacenter. Without virtualization, tricks like load balancing and multitenancy wouldn't be available from datacenters that use commodity x86 hardware to supply the on-demand compute cycles and networked storage that powers the current generation of cloud-based Web applications.

Even though it has been used pervasively in datacenters for the past few years, virtualization isn't standing still. Rather, the technology is still evolving, and with the launch of I/O virtualization support from Intel and AMD it's poised to reach new levels of performance and flexibility. Our past virtualization coverage looked at the basics of what virtualization is, and how processors are virtualized. The current installment will take a close look at how I/O virtualization is used to boost the performance of individual servers by better virtualizing parts of the machine besides the CPU.

Part 1 described three ways in which a component might be virtualized; emulation, "classic" virtualization, and paravirtualization, and part 2 described in more detail how each of these methods was used in CPU virtualization. But the CPU is not the only part of a computer that can use these techniques; although hardware devices are quite different from a CPU, similar approaches are equally useful. Among other topics, the latest article in the series looks at how PCI and PCIe bus systems affect virtualization performance; the differences between paravirtualization and CPU virtualization; and the role that processor-based I/O memory-management technology plays in the process.

Don't Miss: NEW! Virtualization How-To Center

This may sound like too much information for some small-business IT decision-makers -- and in some cases, it is. Many SMB IT experts, however, find themselves trapped between two worlds. On one hand, they may only deal with IT issues on a part-time basis, even as they handle other business duties. On the other, they sometimes need to gain quick, useful expertise on a particular subject in order to make important technology selection and purchase decisions.

If that describes your job, then these articles are worth a closer look. If nothing else, they will help you to cut through the technology gobbledygook that too many vendors rely upon when they try to describe the benefits -- or the alleged benefits -- of their respective virtualization solutions.

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