WHAT IS A VIRTUAL SERVER?
A virtual server is located in the cloud or in an off-site data centre and shares hardware and software resources with other virtual servers. Administrators can control the virtual server to maximise the processing power of the host system.
How to virtualise a server
To virtualise a physical server, a software application is added to the host system that divides server resources into multiple virtual servers. Each virtual server is isolated from any others on the same host and runs its own operating system (OS) with access to its memory, compute and other resources.
Why server virtualisation?
Many servers in data centres are idling the majority of the time. This creates a crowded data centre footprint and an unnecessary cost, as the hardware is not able to be fully utilised. Server virtualisation allows an enterprise to more efficiently use the full processing power of its server infrastructure.
How do virtual servers work?
A virtual server functions just like a physical server, but the virtualisation software allows its resources to be abstracted from the physical system. Each virtual server is able to run its own operating system, applications and workloads without impacting other host system resources.
When a server is virtualised, the server’s capacity can be utilised at a higher rate with more efficiency. These capabilities increase productivity as users securely and efficiently access data. Virtualisation also preserves IT resources, centralises server management and eliminates overprovisioning.
The three types of virtualisation are full virtualisation, para-virtualisation and OS-level virtualisation.
Full virtualisation utilises hypervisors, which is a software layer that guides all communication between the physical server and the CPU. The main responsibility of the hypervisor is to manage the physical server’s capacity and direct traffic to virtual servers to run specific applications.
Para-virtualisation incorporates the entire network of servers (both physical and virtual) to work together as one seamless unit. This type of virtualisation manages OSs, only using the hypervisor for limited processing power.
OS-level virtualisation does not require a hypervisor, as the host OS itself assumes the responsibilities of managing capacity. The only requirement for this type of virtualisation is that all the virtual servers on the host must use the same OS.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of server virtualisation?
- Increased usable capacity is one of the main benefits of server virtualisation, as capacity is no longer restricted to the available resources of a single server. When servers are not virtualised, there is exponentially lower processing power because workloads are distributed to only a small section of each server in the network. Resources are then wasted as servers are not fully engaged.
- Reduced costs of operation are seen almost immediately after virtualisation occurs; as servers multiply and capacity increases, fewer machines are needed for more workloads. This promotes operational efficiency and boosts growth.
- Workloads are assigned efficiently, with tasks dispersed immediately across the virtual network as the virtual servers intake tasks. Each virtual server acts as its own independent server, allowing it to process data and run applications with ease on its independent operating system.
- Application performance is improved due to virtualisation. Virtualised servers allow for applications to be run independently on each OS, enabling quicker and more efficient performance.
- IT infrastructure provides a framework for web hosting services, which saves time and money and capitalises on existing resources. IT also benefits from more efficient workload processing.
- Software behaviour varies in a virtualised setting depending on hardware resources. This can present significant challenges when setting up capacity planning and resource requirements.
- New management tools may be required, which can also be a disadvantage of the virtualisation process. Without certain tools, set-up and execution of virtual environments can be difficult and even impossible in some circumstances.
How is server virtualisation used?
In the current market, and during a time when remote workplaces are more common than ever, using virtual servers is becoming the new standard. Virtualisation improves performance in deployment and migration, all while eliminating redundancies.
Accessibility: Server virtualisation improves data access, providing greater consistency compared to traditional on-prem servers. It sets a new standard of accessibility with security for users all over the world.
Development: Implementing server virtualisation in enterprise architectures makes it possible to stay up to date with the rapidly evolving data processing and storage regulations of modern data storage infrastructures.
Efficiency: Quickly becoming a foundational element of modern data centres, virtual servers enable organisations to do more with less; users can accomplish more with virtual servers’ exponential processing power.
Backup capacity: Server virtualisation provides backup and archive storage options that will effectively protect and safeguard data when attacks happen, enabling data recovery with minimal downtime.
Joint solution: When IT is tasked with managing critical workloads, they need a system that is not disjointed; they require a joint solution of virtual machines within their server storage arrays to provide necessary support.
Provisioning of resources: Overprovisioning is a typical method of guaranteeing resource availability during peaks in demand. This creates a spike in cost and has a negative impact on operations due to increased costs and lower efficiency. Server virtualisation reduces the need for overprovisioning. As rapid or unexpected spikes in growth are less likely to require additional hardware or physical servers, this data can immediately be contained and managed on additional VMs.
Running simultaneous applications: Small businesses virtualise servers to simplify resource allocation and allow multiple applications to run on a single server. For instance, you can run accounting, payroll and productivity apps all on the same server, simultaneously, which effectively reduces costs by simplifying the management of ever-growing workloads.
HPE and virtual servers
HPE ProLiant servers enable you to be prepared for anything, ensuring business continuity and data protection, both on-prem and off-site. These servers come with configuration options including Teradici or VMware Horizon, both of which are tested and proven for on-prem and hybrid cloud environments.
In addition, HPE Pointnext Services is actively helping organisations cope with remote work challenges. Our services help you to reduce maintenance and simplify operations, improving efficiency, enhancing capabilities and helping guide your business to find the right strategy for digital transformation. We use the HPE Digital Journey Map to anchor and combine the functional, technical and economic capabilities and models required to enable your initiatives and fulfil your aspirations.
HPE also offers Remote Desktop Services (RDS) for organisations that require multiple remote employees to access the same system running either on a physical server or virtual machine from anywhere.
And with HPE partner VMware vSphere virtualisation platform, you can transform your data centres into aggregated computing infrastructures that include networking resources. For example, vCenter Server is the service through which you manage multiple hosts connected in a network and pool host resources. The vCenter Server appliance offers multiple services within one device, including authentication, certificate management and licensing.