Virtualization “Doing More with Less”

Two weeks ago, I flew to Mexico City to present on virtualization technologies to both government agencies and private industry.  In both cases their issues were the same.  They are trying to do more with less.  In these times of global economic uncertainty, businesses are being challenged to reduce spending, while still improving infrastructure to keep up with business demand.  This is true, especially in the US, where in one case the construction of a 300 million dollar data center was put on hold and instead IT was task to reduce their server footprint in an at-capacity data center. The new focuses . . . find ways to reduce overall power and cooling costs.  Almost every company is looking at virtualization as one key component of the equation to finding solutions to these data center problems.

The combination of a managed virtualization solution coupled with an efficient Intel processor based server is one highly effective means to solve the “do more with less” mandate.  Let’s start by talking about the new Xeon 5500 processor that was just unveiled last Monday.  You have a need to reduce power and consolidate servers?  A Xeon 5500 based server can effectively replace eight to nine older single-core servers. 9x performance improvements have been seen using things like Turbo Boost.  The processor idle power drops to only 10 watts, enabling a 50% reduction in system idle power compared to our previous generation chip.  Everything I’m seeing on this is that you can recoup your capital investment in around 8 to 9 months from reduced maintenance, power use, software licensing, and cooling costs. Your energy savings alone can be as high as a 90% reduction!  That’s big! 

Check out more details on the launch of the new Xeon 5500 processor with Intel’s press release.

Second, let’s talk about Intel’s power management embedded in the chipset.  This component is the key to rapidly recouping power costs and maximizing your server consolidation efforts.  For a good introduction to Intel’s power management system for server power capping in the data center, take a look at Jackson He’s blog “Datacenter Dynamic Power Management – Intelligent Power Management on Intel Xeon® 5500”.

Lastly, virtualization management software drives ROI but the challenge in the management of large virtual infrastructures is that there are no clear boundaries in terms of network, storage and datacenter management teams.  This needs to be defined as well as an emphasis on a holistic management approach or a “Service Management” approach.  We have to get beyond just monitoring the uptime or resource usage levels of virtual machines (VM) and physical hosts. Along with Intel’s announcement of our latest Xeon 5500, there have also been a number of new product announcements in the past two months.  From VMworld Europe 2009, we heard about vSphere 4.0 and Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V and at ManageFusion Symantec touting improved virtualization functionality and management with CMS/SMS 7.0 integrating Intel’s vPro functionality.

Are the current products providing a holistic management approach with virtualization?

Is it the right strategy to integrate power management with virtualization management?

I’ve got my opinion on this, what’s yours?