Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Series of posts about modernizing virtualization

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In a recent series of posts on the Red Hat blog, I took a look at virtualization modernization with a particular emphasis on incrementally building off of existing virtualization investments and on the management of, often heterogeneous, virtualized environments.

The first post set the stage for the series, noting that:

Some readers might be thinking that virtualization is yesterday’s news. But it continues to play a major role within just about every enterprise IT infrastructure whether measured by the number of applications it touches, the expense of supporting it, or the number of administrators needed to manage it. At the same time, it’s often not used efficiently. At Directions 2016, IDC Group Vice President for Enterprise Infrastructure, Al Gillen, noted that virtual machine (VM) density is stalling out at about 10 VMs per server and between 30 to 50 percent server utilization. This leaves ample room for improved efficiencies and financial value.

The second post focused on getting things done faster such as by introducing self-service (with Red Hat CloudForms or with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization itself), automating (e.g., with Ansible), and by simplifying integration. 

The third in the series looked at saving time and money—always high on the concerns of IT operations folks. Efficient management is a big piece of this given that, in many cases, the server sprawl that virtualization was often introduced to address simply became “VM sprawl,” a similar problem at even higher scale.

The virtualization platform itself can also save money. For example, performance features in Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) such as KSM memory overcommitment (which allows users to define more memory in their VMs than is present in a physical host) and  SR-IOV for the virtual machine network (which increases network throughput while decreasing latency and CPU overhead for near bare-metal performance) enable high VM densities. As of March 31, 2016 Red Hat held the x86 2-socket world record for SPECvirt_sc2013, the standard benchmark used to evaluate performance of datacenter servers used in virtualized server consolidation.

Finally, I discussed how security features and compliance relate to modernizing virtualization. Again, management plays a big role. Red Hat CloudForms provides robust mechanisms for cloud infrastructure with automation, advanced virtualization management controls, private or hybrid cloud management capabilities, and operational visibility. This includes aggregate logging capabilities that let you segregate, log, and allocate resources by user, group, location, or other attributes. Among other benefits, this helps you to find systems that are out of compliance so that you can take quick remedial action.

This complements the foundation provided by Red Hat Enterprise Linux and RHEV. For example, the RHEV security model takes takes advantage of the SELinux and sVirt capabilities in Linux--including mandatory access control (MAC) for enhanced VM and hypervisor security.

(For a broader picture of security and compliance at Red Hat, take a look at the whitepaper that I wrote earlier this year.)

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