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Using Virtualization To Reduce Server Hardware

By Daniel Ruiz

When buying a new server, we have the task of picking the components that will determine how the box is going to perform and how reliable it’s going to be. For instance a video gamer needs to be sure to get a very powerful video card for handling graphic intensive games. On the other hand, a server should be able to fun at least a Raid 1 (Mirroring) disk drive configuration to protect the info stored on the drives.

With Virtual Machines, the story is a little bit different. With virtualization software you have much more control of the capabilities you are going to assign to your servers, the limit being how powerful and fast is your virtualization infrastructure.

You may have a powerful server that is being used as a file server: probably its processor and most of its memory is underused. On the other hand, you may have a server that has many applications running at the same time using up all the CPU and memory to the point that it’s performing poorly.

One of the things we need to do is change the assumption that our virtual machines need the same amount of resources as if they were physical servers. Do you need six processor cores on a server that has no software optimized for multiple CPUs? Are you sure you actually need 4 GB to run those web applications running on Apache?

Enterprise Virtualization systems offer statistics and overviews on how our VM’s are actually performing. I just deployed a SQL Server environment from physical to virtual and they were very happy with how the new server and virtual machine was performing; it had more cores and double the RAM (8 in this case). They were surprised when I told them, “yes, you have multiple processor cores and 8 GB of memory on that server, but I just gave it 1 core and 2 GB of RAM”. They asked me why aren’t we giving it more resources so it can run much faster? I then showed them the performance stats on the VM and they were very surprised, the processor was hardly doing anything and the memory usage was only about half.

Now the customer has more resources to create new virtual machines on the box that before could only fit just one. And it doesn’t stop there.

For example VMware ESX is capable of optimizing the memory usage when running multiple virtual machines with the same operating system (Ubuntu Linux for instance) by sharing the same memory blocks. How? Different virtual machines running the same operating system share many of the same instructions in memory because they share the same code, so instead of running and loading the same code into memory several times, it does it just once.

Using these kinds of performance monitors provides better control on how the servers are going to perform, how much they really need and how many free resources are available for future virtual machines.

Read more articles about Server Virtualization and Desktop Virtualization by Daniel Ruiz at both Geeknick and Adcap Tech Tips.

categories: virtual machines,vmware,virtual server,virtualization,server requirements,computer

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Ruiz, Daniel "Using Virtualization To Reduce Server Hardware." Using Virtualization To Reduce Server Hardware. 10 Jul. 2010. 17 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Ruiz, D (2010, July 10). Using Virtualization To Reduce Server Hardware. Retrieved September 17, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Ruiz, Daniel "Using Virtualization To Reduce Server Hardware"

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