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What is Data Center Virtualization?

M. McGee
Updated May 16, 2024
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Data center virtualization is a method of moving information storage from physical servers to virtual ones, often in a different location. In the past, large companies would keep physical servers on site that held huge amounts of corporate information. These servers were expensive, both to purchase and maintain. With data center virtualization, it became possible to separate both the hardware and location from the data. This cuts costs and increases the data’s availability.

Data center virtualization actually comes from a combination of two different technologies; high-speed data transfer and server virtualization. Without both of these components, data center virtualization becomes highly impractical. While high-speed data transfer has been around for a long time, server virtualization didn’t become practical until the beginning of the 21st century.

High-speed data transfer allows for the separation of information from location. With traditional data centers, information was stored on site, so it was always accessible to workers. As the Internet increased in speed, it became possible to retrieve information from distant locations nearly as quickly as from a home server. With this type of speed on hand, it is possible to keep your data center nearly anywhere there is a good Internet connection.

Server virtualization centers on using software to do the job of hardware. A single computer running a single server will always have periods where it is sitting idle or doing very little. By running server virtualization software on that single machine, it can act as if it is two or more completely independent servers. Now when one server is idle, the other ones can still be working. This cuts down inefficiency and reduces the number of machines necessary to do tasks.

The business applications for data center virtualizations are numerous. Data can exist in multiple locations at the same time. When changes are made to a database, the change can migrate through a series of virtual servers until all have the new data. Instead of databases being offline when the server needs a repair, the company can simply access an off-site location. If one of the off-site locations becomes inaccessible, there are other servers available with the same information.

Data center virtualization costs less than traditional data storage as well. On the local front, the company has fewer servers to maintain, cutting hardware and staff costs. The off-site location has a series of virtual servers. These machines are doing the work of many physical servers, which cuts their cost as well.

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M. McGee
By M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences. With a background in communication-related fields, he brings strong organizational and interpersonal skills to his writing, ensuring that his work is both informative and engaging.
Discussion Comments
By thiruslevan — On Aug 26, 2012

Can two servers host a single virtual instance?

By discographer — On Apr 03, 2011

I find virtualization really interesting and have been following the changes and news for the past year or so. I've come across the same several companies that are dominating data center virtualization. VMware seems to be the most popular one, Citrix and Microsoft are two other top ones. All in all, there are about 10 or so companies that do data center virtualization.

I suppose that virtualization requires a lot of investment and various different equipment which smaller companies wouldn't be able to handle. But still, isn't this too few? I think there should be more companies, for the sake of competition and lower prices. What do you guys think? Do you agree?

By burcinc — On Apr 02, 2011

Yea, virtualizing data centers have a lot of benefits, but there are downsides too. The company my brother works for has recently virtualized and he says that when there is a problem with the servers now, it actually takes a longer time to fix because a virtualized data system is more difficult to manage. And I think they've had some security issues since they have virtualized as well.

By serenesurface — On Mar 31, 2011

They say that pretty soon, almost all data centers will be virtual. I think this is great.

I think that virtualization is not just about reduced cost and more efficiency. It's part of a much bigger picture. I think where we are going with virtualization is a complete global access to data. This means that data will be available to a business' employees no matter where they are and they can work and expand the business anywhere.

I think this is truly a revolutionary step towards data and business management. With virtualization, a small business in the Midwest United States has the potential to grow and become a multinational corporation. This should also increase cooperation among countries and a global business mentality.

M. McGee
M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences....
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