Virtualization has helped many organizations consolidate their environment, remove a sometimes massive hardware footprint and create a more agile infrastructure. Today’s modern data center is finding new ways to leverage a virtualized data center to better fit the needs of the organization.
In looking at modern cloud and data center ecosystems, it’s important to understand how virtualization in a distributed data center environment has helped IT managers develop new IT plans and strategies. It’s also important to understand how resource management and capacity planning play important roles in remote, virtualized data centers.
Working with the hypervisor
In computing, a hypervisor is a virtualization technique allowing multiple operating systems, termed guests, to run concurrently on a physical computer, called a host. It is so named because it is, conceptually, one level higher than a supervisory program – hence the term, hypervisor. The hypervisor presents to the guest operating systems a virtual operating platform and manages the execution of the guest operating systems. Multiple instances of a variety of operating systems may share the virtualized hardware resources. Hypervisors are installed on server hardware whose only task is to run guest operating systems.
There are two hypervisor classifications which administrators have to work with:
- Type 1(or native, bare metal) hypervisors run directly on the host’s hardware to control the hardware and to manage guest operating systems. A guest operating system thus runs on another level above the hypervisor.
- Type 2(or hosted) hypervisors run within a conventional operating system environment. With the hypervisor layer as a distinct second software level, guest operating systems run at the third level above the hardware.
- Basically, Type 1 hypervisor runs directly on the hardware; a Type 2 hypervisor runs on another operating system.
Hypervisor technology has come a long way since its original inception. When it was first introduced, a lot of functionality revolved around knowing how to work with a command line interface. Now, however, leading hypervisor makers have made great GUIs for administrators to work with. These graphical interfaces present a solid set of tools to use for a virtualized environment. Remember, your hypervisor is now a direct extension in the cloud and other data center resources. This is why management is so critical.
- Setting alerts and alarms within a virtual environment is always going to be very important. By maintaining a constant view into an ever-changing virtual infrastructure, administrators are able to stay one step ahead of any major issues. These alerts and alarms can be set up by roles as well. This means that if an event occurs, the appropriate escalation engineer will receive the notice and will be able to respond accordingly.
- Aside from setting up alerts, there are many native tools to use when working with a distributed environment. The ability to see numerous pooled servers spanning multiple sites is a great function within today’s leading virtualization developers. Live migration, memory allocation and checking on existing resources are all available functions which should be leveraged.
As virtualization continues to expand its boundaries, hypervisor technology is going to play an increased role in distributed data center management. Monitoring and managing resources through hypervisor tools is a reality today. The most important thing to remember is to take the time to learn these valuable tools which a given hypervisor has to offer.
- This might mean taking a class or a training course directly relating to the technology at hand.
- This sort of training can help administrators get a better grasp of their environment and make better use of already purchased tools.
By understanding the hypervisor tool set, administrators are better able to develop DR plans, create data center extensions, integrate with cloud, and support a very agile business.
Let’s look at disaster recovery and business continuity (DRBC) as an example. The more understanding there is at the datacenter level, the better the infrastructure plan can be. Without good knowledge of how a system hypervisor operates, administrators may make the wrong decisions for the DRBC initiative. Using alerts, working with native tools and understanding how a hypervisor interacts with the virtual environment are all important steps in developing solid business and data center planning.
As mentioned earlier, your hypervisor acts as a gateway into the cloud and other interconnected systems. Moving forward, we’re going to see even greater levels of virtualization and physical workload abstraction. Now, with new technologies like containerization, we’ll see very specific services being offered from cloud providers and directly from the hypervisor. Moving forward, it’s important to always remember just how important your virtualization environment is to your business, your overall strategies, and how you integrate with the cloud.