What is Server Virtualization, Containerization and Network Virtualization?

While virtualization and containerization are different approaches for improving the usage and flexibility of cloud computing resources, we add Network Virtualization to this topic as it is the key enabler for hybrid clouds to realize the workload mobility expectation from every modern CIO.


What is Server Virtualization?

Simply put, it’s the process of creating a virtual, rather than physical, version of something. Virtualization can apply to computers, operating systems, storage devices, applications, or networks. However, server virtualization is at the heart of it.
IT organizations are challenged by the limitations of today’s x86 servers, which are designed to run just one operating system and application at a time. As a result, even small data centers have to deploy many servers, each operating at just 5 to 15 percent of capacity—highly inefficient by any standard.

Virtualization uses software to simulate the existence of hardware and create a virtual computer system. Doing this allows businesses to run more than one virtual system – and multiple operating systems and applications — on a single server. This can provide economies of scale and greater efficiency.



What is Containerization?

The concept of containerization basically allows virtual instances to share a single host operating system and relevant binaries, libraries or drivers. This approach reduces wasted resources because each container only holds the application and related binaries or libraries. Containers use the same host operating system (OS) repeatedly, instead of installing (and paying to license) an OS for each guest VM. This is often referred to as operating system-level virtualization. The role of a hypervisor is instead handled by a containerization engine, which installs atop the host operating system.

Software Defined Networking

What is Network Virtualization?

Network virtualization completely decouples network resources from the underlying hardware. All networking components and functions are faithfully replicated in software. Virtualization principles are applied to physical network infrastructure to create a flexible pool of transport capacity that can be allocated, used, and repurposed on demand. This means once you have your initial physical hypervisors in your physical network in operation, you no longer need to touch any networking physical device.

How will my company benefit?

This set of technologies are established at the core to move foward into the implemenation of private and hybrid cloud environments.
Once an organization has successfully moved into a virtualized environment, the company is well prepared to embark into projects such as:

  • Creation of a remote Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity (DR/BC) site.
  • Establishment of a hybrid cloud implementation that links an on-premise datacenter with a private cloud located in a datacenter of an IaaS supplier.
  • Ability to transfer workloads between datacenters using replication for backup, recovery or the creation of alternate running environments.

Based on each concept the main benefits are:

The benefits of Server Virtualization utilizing virtual machines are:
  • Partitioning
    • Run multiple operating systems on one physical machine
    • Divide system resources between virtual machines
  • Isolation
    • Provide fault and security isolation at the hardware level
    • Preserve performance with advanced resource controls
  • Encapsulation
    • Save the entire state of a virtual machine to files
    • Move and copy virtual machines as easily as moving and copying files
  • Hardware Independence
    • Provision or migrate any virtual machine to any physical server
The benefits of Containerization are:

Since each application’s container is free of OS overhead:

  • The container is notably smaller, easier to migrate or download, faster to backup or restore and requires less memory.
  • Containerization allows the server to potentially host far more containers than it could virtual machines.
  • The difference in utilization can be dramatic, and it is possible to fit anywhere from 10 to 100 times the number of container instances on a given server (compared to the number of VM-based application instances).
The benefits of Network Virtualization are:
  • Functional:
    • Creating entire networks in software in seconds.
    • Minimizing the risk and impact of data breaches.
    • Speeding IT service delivery and time to market.
    • Simplifying network traffic flows.
    • Increasing service availability.
  • Economic:
    • Reducing the risk of costly breaches.
    • Reducing time and effort.
    • Improving server asset utilization.
    • Improving price/performance savings.
    • Extending the hardware lifecycle.

How can you help us with our Server Virtualization, Containerization or Networking Virtualization initiative?

Our experience will be very valuable in various aspects, from design to implementation:

Virtualization of workloads

Creation of Disaster Recovery DR/BC Sites

Implementation of hybrid clouds

Implementation of connectivity between on-premises datacenters and public clouds

What tooling and infrastructure do you use?

Among other tools and technologies our team uses the following toolset for each implementation type:

For Server Virtualization:
  • VMware ESXi
  • IBM Cloud Orchestrator
  • IBM PureApplication System
  • IBM PureApplication Software
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization
  • Red Hat OpenStack
For Containerization:
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host
  • IBM PureApplication System with Docker Containers
For Networking Virtualization:
  • VMware NSX for VMware implementations
  • Juniper Contrail for OpenStack implementations

Frequently asked questions:

Is Server Virtualization what people call "Cloud Computing"?

Cloud computing is not the same thing as virtualization; rather, it’s something you can do using virtualization. Cloud computing describes the delivery of shared computing resources (software and/or data) on demand through the Internet. Whether or not you are in the cloud, you can start by virtualizing your servers and then move to cloud computing for even more agility and increased self-service.

Is VMware the only way to virtualize servers?

Definitively not. We have certified Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization engineers using Linux KVM (RHEV-H) as the underlying hypervisor of RHEV. We’ve had outstanding results for customers in a variety of industries.

If I have a virtualized infrastructure locally and a virtualized infrastructure remotely, is that a "Hybrid Cloud"?

No, the concept of cloud is geared to the model of consumption of compute, storage and networking resources. These consumption is generally self-served and on-demand. Two virtualized data centers are usually established and interconnected in order to implement a DR/BC strategy. Generally called “Main Site” and “Disaster Recovery Site”.

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