Virtualization technology is possibly the single most important issue in IT and has started a top to bottom
overhaul of the computing industry. The growing awareness of the advantages provided by virtualization
technology is brought about by economic factors of scarce resources, government regulation, and more competition.
Virtualization is being used by a growing number of organizations to reduce power consumption and air
conditioning needs and trim the building space and land requirements that have always been associated
with server farm growth. Virtualization also provides high availability for critical applications, and
streamlines application deployment and migrations. Virtualization can simplify IT operations and allow IT
organizations to respond faster to changing business demands.
The socio-political ramifications of global warming requiring good corporate citizens to meet greenhouse
gas reduction targets, creates an added incentive for virtualization.
The availability of better virtual machine isolation through new Intel® Virtual Technology hardware support
in commodity systems together with the broad availability of virtualization software provides a level of
efficiency to meet these demands.
This paper discusses what virtualization is, how Intel technologies improve it, and how organizations can
benefit from adopting virtualization into future IT plans.
What is Virtualization?
Virtualization is a combination of software and hardware engineering that creates Virtual Machines (VMs)
– an abstraction of the computer hardware that allows a single machine to act as if it where many machines.
Without VMs: A single OS owns all hardware resources
With VMs: Multiple OSes, each running its own virtual machine, share hardware resources
Virtualization enables multiple operating systems to run on the same physical platform
Figure 1 – Non Virtual Machine and VM Configurations
Advantages of Using Virtualization
Today’s IT intensive enterprise must always be on the lookout for the latest technologies that allow
businesses to run with fewer resources while providing the infrastructure to meet today and future
customer needs. Virtualization utilizing Intel Virtualization Technology is the cutting edge of enterprise
information technology. Intel is closely working with VMware, XENSource, Jaluna, Parallels, tenAsys,
VirtualIron, RedHat, Novell and other VMM developers.
It is not unusual to achieve 10:1 virtual to physical machine consolidation. This means that ten server
applications can be run on a single machine that had required as many physical computers to provide the
unique operating system and technical specification environments in order to operate. Server utilization is
optimized and legacy software can maintain old OS configurations while new applications are running in
VMs with updated platforms.
Although a server supporting many VMs will probably have more memory, CPUs, and other hardware it
will use little or no more power and occupy the same physical space reducing utilities costs and real
Testing And Development
Use of a VM enables rapid deployment by isolating the application in a known and controlled environment.
Unknown factors such as mixed libraries caused by numerous installs can be eliminated. Severe crashes
that required hours of reinstallation now take moments by simply copying a virtual image.
Dynamic Load Balancing And Disaster Recovery
As server workloads vary, virtualization provides the ability for virtual machines that are over utilizing the
resources of a server to be moved to underutilized servers. This dynamic load balancing creates efficient
utilization of server resources.
Disaster recovery is a critical component for IT, as system crashes can create huge economic losses.
Virtualization technology enables a virtual image on a machine to be instantly re-imaged on another
server if a machine failure occurs.
Multinational flexibility provides seamless transitions between different operating systems on a single
machine reducing desktop footprint and hardware expenditure.
“…Parallels Desktop for Mac, a virtual machine application. Instead of Boot Camp’s dual-boot approach,
Parallels Desktop runs Windows XP directly on the Mac OS desktop (in what Parallels calls “near-native
performance”)–allowing you to run both OSs simultaneously and switch back and forth seamlessly.”
Daniel A. Begun, CNet: Heresy: Windows XP performance on a Mac.
Improved System Reliability and Security
Virtualization of systems helps prevent system crashes due to memory corruption caused by software like
device drivers. VT-d for Directed I/O Architecture provides methods to better control system devices by
defining the architecture for DMA and interrupt remapping to ensure improved isolation of I/O resources
for greater reliability, security, and availability.
Industry will continue to adopt virtualization for many reasons: collections of inefficient servers can be
replaced with fewer machines; software can be tested while isolated in harmless virtual partitions; and
data centers can gracefully (and virtually) conform to shifting work models, new technologies and
changing corporate priorities.
The future of enterprise IT management will be based on virtual computing. Intel VT makes it possible to
maximize computer utilization while minimizing all associated overheads of management, power
consumption, maintenance and physical space.
Intel Virtualization Technology provides a comprehensive roadmap to address virtualization challenges
and includes support for CPU and I/O virtualization and a strong VMM ecosystem. Intel was the first and is
the leading provider of hardware support for virtualization technologies.