What is Virtualization?
In order to understand what a virtual data center is we need to first discuss what virtualization is. Virtualization is the practice of creating logical abstraction between the software functionality and the underlying hardware resources. Basically you are taking the physical machines you already have and making more efficient use of them by running multiple processes from the same one. To put it into perspective for data centers lets say a company has two dedicated servers, one for data storage and one for data management. These servers are most likely running at less than 40% capacity which is less efficient, this is where virtualization comes in.
Instead of having two servers running different tasks you can separate say the one data storage server into two individual ones that can manage individual tasks. Eureka, you now have one server using the same hardware to operate two tasks. Knowing this we can see that when virtualization emerged decades ago it was a game changer in the field of networked computing. Virtualization leads to both technical and economic benefits: optimized server utilization, faster resource provisioning and improved disaster recovery capabilities, among others.
What is a Virtual Data Center?
In the age of cloud computing, the similar concept of virtualization is applied at scale – across the entire data center, it now applies to not only server but storage and networking also. The result is a management environment that operates out of a single pane of glass and can be deployed on-premises or across various cloud environments – public, private or hybrid. When deployed in this way it can be consumed as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering. Giving businesses a supply of cloud based assets within its existing physical hardware. This service is referred to as Virtual Data Center (VDC) and offers a range of technology and strategic business benefits.
What are the Benefits of a Virtual Data Center?
1. Cost Management and Profitability
Progressive organizations ensure that their IT investments align with their strategic business goals. The cost of IT infrastructure is therefore a key consideration. In a virtual data center environment, the software application or service is decoupled from the hardware, allowing the flexibility to operate multiple IT workloads on shared pool of infrastructure resources. This means improved resource utilization as each individual hardware component is optimally consumed to true business enablement.
According to a recent Gartner research report, 38 percent of IT spending is controlled by line of business units and the fear of vendor lock-in, inflexible infrastructure environments and integration concerns prevent organizations from undertaking the most profitable route with their IT investments. By extending the virtualization principles to the entire data center, organizations can leverage the ideal hardware infrastructure for changing business-driven IT use cases to maximize profitability.
2. Faster Provisioning
Today’s IT-driven business landscape is in a continuous and rapid state of evolution. In order to stay relevant in the fast-paced world, IT organizations must adopt technologies to accelerate release cycles and embrace the modern Agile and DevOps SDLC practices. Virtual Data Center technologies allow organizations to establish policy-based configurations that automatically provision hardware resources on a whim to address continuous changing business demands. As an IaaS offering, the subscription-based model poses a non-trivial challenge for vendors to accommodate dynamic computing requests in a short period of time. And as the demand for elastic, flexible and cost-effective IaaS solutions increase, vendors must maintain high standards of Quality of Service (QoS). Ultimately, end-users receive almost instant functionality for infrastructure resources used in production environments.
3. Compliance and Security
Virtual data centers offer strong isolation within a multi-tenant environment as a key enabler to security compliance. Since the functional layer is isolated from the underlying hardware infrastructure by default, and logical isolation extends across other virtual networks, the data traffic between VMs remains encapsulated and secure. Configuration policies are also maintained irrespective of hardware allocation and do not require manual intervention when the IT workloads are dynamically distributed to for load balancing, backup and disaster recovery. The security is therefore pervasive and IaaS customers can maintain high standards of regulatory compliance across the data center.
Organizations facing stringent compliance requirements can adopt additional security measures such as confining IT workloads with distinct security policies for different use cases, strategic and security requirements. VDC operates as an on-demand operating environment, and therefore ensures that the configuration policies are manageable and simplified for IT administrators to maintain, change and replicate as needed.
4. Response to Changing Business Needs
Progressive business organizations use technology as a key driver for business performance and efficiencies. In order to turn IT-enabled services into revenue-generating businesses within changing market circumstances, the underlying computing resources should facilitate agility in business operations. Virtual data center offers exciting opportunities for businesses to adapt business operations through on-demand resource provisioning, try new business models and prevent IT from emerging as a bottleneck throughout these changes. The pace of change serves as a key competitive advantage and if the associated IT configurations are decoupled from the underlying hardware, the storage needs, the IT workloads, apps and services pose minimal resistance to changes that have the potential to unlock new business opportunities.
5. Productivity for IT Administrators
Research suggests that 75 percent of network downtime is associated with human error. Virtual data centers take the manual efforts out of the equation and enables true IT automation and orchestration capabilities. As a result, the error-prone human effort, time and complexity in managing infrastructure resources is reduced to manageable levels. Powerful infrastructure orchestration capabilities ensure accelerated IT delivery, low operational expense and faster time to market for new IT-enabled products and services. Centralized management of the resources ensures that the IT administrators achieve complete visibility and control into the computing resources to optimize utilization and spending.
6. Data Mobility
Users need to access IT workloads and data from anywhere, anytime, without incurring the associated infrastructure constraints. Virtual data center technology enables true data mobility, such that users can Run, Manage, Provision and Secure any workload or app on any cloud in accordance with the technical requirements and business policies. When the data is mobile, users can focus their efforts on managing the data instead of spending resource on infrastructure management efforts. By decoupling the applications from servers, the data center offers improved resilience and efficiency in scaling the workload or dealing with infrastructure performance bottlenecks.
A growing number of organizations leverage virtual data center architecture to simplify the process of IT provisioning, optimize storage and capacity utilization, reduce risk and maximize performance. The technology empowers IT to operate as a strategic partner to the business and drive the change in response to changing market landscape.