by John Hodge on 12/07/12 at 7:34 pm
Choosing the right hypervisor can be a difficult task. Before making a decision, it is important to familiarize yourself with the term “hypervisor.” Essentially, a hypervisor is a hardware virtualization program. It allows a user to run multiple operating systems on one computer, which can be extremely beneficial in many situations, especially in an IT department that is growing very rapidly.
Modern IT departments are faced with the challenge of finding more cost effective solutions for the company while dealing with sever infrastructure limitations. Restrictions on physical space, budgetary constraints, and may other situations can make it very difficult to effectively manage the IT environment, but virtualization, and all the tools that make it a valid option, can go a long way to create more effective utilization rates, lower capital costs, and improve the quality of service.
Types of Hypervisors
There are two primary types of hypervisors: native or hosted. A native hypervisor installs directly onto a computer without a host operating system. As a result, the hypervisor has direct access to the hardware and all its features. These native hypervisors are typically used for security and portability purposes.
Hosted hypervisors require a host operating system, which often functions as installed software. These hypervisors can still run multiple operating systems, but they do not connect directly to the hardware. As a result, each additional operating system will run at less than full capacity. Due to these differences, sufficient research should be conducted to fully assess your hypervisor needs.
What are the Advantages?
Native hypervisors carry a few advantages over hosted solutions. Specifically, a native hypervisor can produce real time performance for its multiple operating systems. Since it is directly connected to the hardware, latency is significantly lowered. This kind of immediate response is extremely important in most IT environments.
Native hypervisors also have an advantage in terms of system configuration. The developer can configure aspects of the memory, core, and the mapping of the hypervisor to make sure it performs exactly as required. Additionally, device access availability is significantly easier with a native hypervisor. Devices can be accessed directly without interference or a reduction in operating speed from the hypervisor. Native solutions are also considerably more secure than those hosted elsewhere, which is extremely important when you are working with sensitive data.
However, hosted hypervisors have a few unique advantages of their own. While a native hypervisor is typically more efficient than one that is hosted, the latter can often provide many of the same functions at a reduced performance. Host hypervisors are rarely used in production, but they still offer a variety of different services. They are most often used to test different operating systems because they support the isolation of a specific system. In other words, the user can test an application or some new software without changing production. As a result, host hypervisors can provide an efficient alternative to physically testing a system.
Which is Right for You?
There are a few factors to consider when deciding if a hypervisor will benefit your organization and a lot of it will depend on how much of your IT infrastructure can employ virtualization solutions to improve efficiency. A lot of companies have expressed their intention to make the switch to virtual servers and storage solutions, but they continue to drag their feet on the process. Some of this may be due to budget constraints, but it could also be a result of not understanding how the change will really impact them.
Hypervisors are a tool that can result in a substantial reduction in costs due to the ability to support multiple operating systems on one piece of hardware. Additionally, hypervisors allow an organization to optimize its resources and get much better utilization rates. Most servers tend to see an overall utilization of around 5 – 15%, but in a virtualization environment, those rates can go up as high as 60 – 80%.
Finding the right hypervisor for your organization will depend on a lot of factors. Hypervisors are not all created equal, and it is important to consider the specific needs of your organization before making a commitment. Understanding the features of each hypervisor is essential to making the best decision for your organization.
About The Author: John Hodge is a writer for RackMountPro.com. When he’s not writing he loves computers and everything related to them, gaming and spending time with his family. Connect with John on Google +. In addition to selling servers for Linux and Windows RackMountPro has been producing and selling rackmount servers and storage since 2001.