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Feature

Virtualization Takes On The Data Center

In the fight against server sprawl, companies have tried multicore processors and high-density blades. Now it's time for virtual servers.

Using VMware virtualization software and physical-to-virtual migration software from PlateSpin, NewEnergy was able to reduce the time it took to move the legacy platforms to a new server from hours to seconds, he says. Now that the virtualization template is in place, the company can "spin up" a new virtual server to support or test a customer requirement in around 10 seconds.

Out With The old

Virtual Servers"In the old world, you'd have to find available physical servers, install the operating system, install the application, install our software, put the customer data on it, and that could take a day," Tisdale says. "Now for each customer requirement, we set them up here where they can sit idle on disk, and when the customer has a problem it can become live in seconds."

Some of Tisdale's developers had experimented with virtualization, but NewEnergy hadn't committed to a full-scale virtualization project until the Houston data center consolidation in November, he says.

"We ran in parallel for a month and kept the old machines around cold for a couple more months," he says. "But there were no issues, and there was a big concern that if we didn't virtualize, we were going to keep some critical program on machines that were 5 to 7 years old that you can't get replacement parts for or support into the future."

In some cases, IT execs and data center managers find they're trading server sprawl for virtual sprawl, but with improving management tools for virtual environments, Provident Bank's Martin says that's a trade-off he's happy to make.

"In a sense you're putting more eggs in one basket, and it seems like a return to the mainframe days," Martin says. "It becomes a management issue, but I can manage all our virtual servers from one console and keep eye on the health of our host machines."

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing