Virtualization refers to the concept of abstracting physical resources such as compute cycles, data storage, and network bandwidth, and then provisioning and sharing these resources amongst multiple applications. For example, a single server may be "virtualized" to allow multiple operating system (OS) images to run concurrently; the amount of storage available to a user on a Storage Area Network (SAN) may be dynamically adjusted on the fly; and the amount of bandwidth allocated to a given application may be boosted or reduced as required.
Virtualization began as a niche market but is rapidly gaining acceptance as the preferred way to manage and provision system resources within a network. In fact, it's become a key strategy for simplifying deployment of IT resources and maximizing their utilization. The benefits of virtualization are well understood. System administrators are able to capture underutilized resources and re-allocate them to constrained applications. Resources can be dynamically allocated and load-balanced as the characteristics of traffic and applications change over time. Hardware can be transparently replaced or upgraded with a minimum of downtime. Utilizing existing resources more efficiently in this way leads to reduced infrastructure cost, better utilization of IT assets, lower power consumption, reduced cooling requirements, and inevitably lower total cost of ownership.
Server virtualization is primarily handled through specialized software provided by vendors such as VMware. The success of this technology has led system architects to think about ways to increase virtualizationšs effectiveness by extending the same concepts to the hardware level. Companies such as Intel, with its Virtual Technology (a.k.a Vanderpool), and AMD, with "Pacifica" are implementing virtualization-specific features in their CPUs. Following along the same path, input/output (I/O) architectures are now being redesigned to support this powerful concept from end to end, with the introduction of hardware-based I/O virtualization, commonly referred to as IOV.
NetLingo Classification: Net Technology
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