Virtualization helps you better use your physical computing hardware and is the backbone of cloud computing.
Virtualization creates an abstract layer over computer hardware. So the hardware elements of one computer – processors, memory, storage device – can be divided into several virtual computers, called virtual machines (VM).
This technology is now indispensable for IT systems, and the virtualization market is growing yearly.
However, virtualization isn’t just about the benefits in some cases. There can be several disadvantages as well.
Table of Contents
- Advantages of Virtualization
- 1. Improve equipment utilization
- 2. Reduced IT costs
- 3. Can be handled with an inexpensive server
- 4. Become resistant to disability
- 5. Lightweight testing
- 6. Application deployment
- 7. Safe
- 8. Application Migration
- 9. Remote Handling
- 10. Business efficiency improvement
- 11. Compatible with old apps
- 12. Flexible expansion possible
- 13. Quickly prepare a new server
- 14. Reduce Heat
- 15. Reduce Space Costs
- 16. Hardware Standardization
- 17. Create a better workflow
- 18. Allows more than one type of storage array
- Disadvantages of Virtualization
- 1. Increased control complexity
- 2. Costs are high in small environments
- 3. Performance is inferior to the physical environment
- 4. Difficulties in support
- 5. Extent of the impact of a physical hardware failure can be large
- 6. Demand for SAN storage is on the rise
- 7. Skilled human resources needed
- 8. Special security management needed
- 9. Selection of virtualization software
- 10. One Attack Center
- 11. Dependency on the host system
- 12. Task overload
- 13. Scalability issue
- 14. Availability issue
- 15. Extra layer on the stack
- 16. Getting virtual servers up and running is too easy
- 17. Data backup
- At a Glance (Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtualization)
Advantages of Virtualization
Virtualization technology has several advantages, which are as follows:
1. Improve equipment utilization
The performance of PC servers continues to improve, and processors gradually use multiple cores, making it difficult for a single application to utilize hardware resources fully.
In addition, different applications have different requirements for hardware resources at different times.
The traditional method cannot allocate hardware resources dynamically between applications, which also causes hardware resource waste.
Virtualization allows you to provide independent operating systems for different applications on a single physical server.
Doing so allows for dynamic allocation of hardware resources among different applications according to factors such as application importance, performance requirements, peak performance times, etc.
You can create multiple virtual machines on a server to improve hardware utilization. Increased hardware usage also reduces server requirements for a computer room environment (space, power supply, heat dissipation).
2. Reduced IT costs
Often companies have to buy new hardware to get more computing resources. However, the cost of virtualization is almost always lower than the cost of acquiring and maintaining additional equipment.
Companies often deploy servers to run applications that consume only a fraction of their available resources, do not reach their full potential, and sometimes are completely idle.
Using virtualization tactics, you can closely look at your existing infrastructure and identify wasted or idle computing resources.
In a virtualized environment, you can assign each virtual machine the amount of processing power it needs. The remaining resources are then available to other virtual machines and their applications.
In this way, you can achieve cost savings, maximize the value of existing resources, and increase process automation and the adaptability and scalability of the business.
3. Can be handled with an inexpensive server
To operate high-performance applications, you need to prepare a suitable server. High-performance servers can be pretty costly to deploy.
On the other hand, when virtualization is introduced, even if resources are physically limited, there is an advantage that sufficient resources can be provided by logically consolidating and using them.
You can prepare the necessary resources by consolidating multiple inexpensive servers into one and consolidating the resources.
4. Become resistant to disability
When managing data from an in-house system on several storage units, a failure in one piece of hardware can significantly affect the system. In some cases, the system may stop working. Virtualization helps to avoid these risks.
For example, if you operate a logically integrated storage environment consisting of dozens of physical units, even if one hardware fails, the other hardware can cover it.
If you become more resistant to failures in this way, you will be able to operate the system continuously and stably.
5. Lightweight testing
Since the virtualized environment is divided into virtual machines, developers can quickly deploy a virtual machine without impacting the production environment. It is beneficial for development and testing.
6. Application deployment
The traditional way to deploy applications is to install operating systems, patches, and deploy applications.
These operations must be repeated in research and development, testing, and production environments for the same application.
It requires a lot of human resources and is difficult to provide medium consistency.
After using virtualization, you can make the operating system and patches into a template provided to all applications.
Only one system installation is required, reducing the workload and ensuring that all applications have the same base environment.
It is possible to operate multiple services on a single computer without virtualization. However, everything can be lost or stolen if a security hole is breached.
Virtual machines can mitigate those security risks. However, since both the host and guest OS must take security measures, it does not mean that no measures need to be taken.
By taking appropriate security measures to make security solid, you will be able to utilize virtual machines with greater peace of mind.
8. Application Migration
You have to migrate the applications to servers with higher stability for PCs that have reached the end of their useful life.
In addition, at different stages of research and development, the same application must run on different hardware resources, including migrating applications to a different physical machine.
The traditional application migration method is more complex and cannot be done online. In the virtual version, application migration can be done quickly and conveniently, even online.
9. Remote Handling
When a failure occurs in a production environment, it becomes challenging to analyze the failure in a remotely rebuilt environment.
Once desktop virtualization is implemented, you can back up the virtual machines to provide a production-compatible environment for remote technicians to review.
10. Business efficiency improvement
With a lot of hardware, it’s hard to maintain and manage everything, especially for business owners. In addition, the maintenance support period for hardware devices is generally five years.
Still, managing which and when the support period expires becomes complicated if the purchase time differs.
If the OS needs to be updated in line with the application version upgrade, it will take time to migrate the data, and a planned schedule is required.
You can minimize this kind of effort by reducing the number of devices through virtualized infrastructure.
11. Compatible with old apps
The new PC server does not support older systems, but commercial banks still have applications deployed on older operating systems.
Once the virtualization architecture is adopted, you can virtualize the old system on new hardware, which solves the problem that old applications cannot run on new hardware.
For example, if a new software update is released, you can clone the VM, apply the update, test the environment, and boot it into a production application.
12. Flexible expansion possible
If you add memory or disks to a physical server, you’ll have to disassemble the machine or shut it down to plan your work.
However, allocating memory in a virtual environment means no need for physical expansion work, and quick and flexible expansion is possible.
To extend the specifications, it is necessary to stop the virtual environment once and set the parameters. Still, it will be possible to reduce the operation downtime much shorter than expanding the physical server.
For example, if you raise the specifications during the busy season and return the parameters when the operation is calm, you can use the resources efficiently.
13. Quickly prepare a new server
There are various situations where it is necessary to prepare a new server, such as introducing new services and business software and promoting development verification.
If you apply server virtualization at that time, it is possible to arrange a new server cheaper and faster than purchasing and installing a new physical server.
In addition, server virtualization makes it easy to scale out by increasing the number of servers to reduce the load on the system and improve processing.
14. Reduce Heat
Reducing the number of automatic devices reduces the heat of the server room/data center. It will reduce cooling/air conditioning costs and ultimately reduce the cost of electricity usage.
15. Reduce Space Costs
Fewer servers mean less space to store devices. Your rental costs will significantly reduce if the server is placed in a co-location server/data center.
16. Hardware Standardization
Virtualization emulates and encapsulates hardware so that the process of recognizing and transferring a particular hardware specification is not a problem.
The system does not need to re-detect hardware as it is installed on a physical system/computer.
17. Create a better workflow
If you are using multiple arrays for data storage, you need to have someone manage them to maintain the continuity of data storage. With storage virtualization, you can do everything from one central console.
Instead of having multiple human resources operating the system, it is feasible to do so with one person leading.
For agencies using enterprise-grade storage devices, the savings in labor costs alone make storage virtualization a tremendous asset.
18. Allows more than one type of storage array
Virtual storage allows you to allocate more than one array type to your SAN (Storage Area Network). Even though the storage type is different, it will look the same for the server.
It makes it easy to manage all your storage needs from one central location because everything is easier to manage.
Disadvantages of Virtualization
The cons of virtualization are as follows:
1. Increased control complexity
The virtualization architecture makes the IT architecture more flexible and more customizable.
Misconfiguration, misoperation, and other causes can affect the performance of the virtual architecture and even its regular operation.
In response to this challenge, administrators must understand the virtualization architecture, which is a fundamental requirement for its successful implementation.
Creating VMs doesn’t seem to be worth it, which could lead to the proliferation of VMs. Too many virtual machines will significantly increase the management and maintenance of the operating system.
You need to plan the VM lifecycle and strictly limit the growth of the VM. In addition, the virtual architecture cannot reduce the maintenance work needed at the operating system level.
2. Costs are high in small environments
Introducing a virtualization platform would reduce initial investment because it would be possible to support the system with an inexpensive server.
However, in a small environment, the operational cost can be higher. For example, if you try to integrate two or three physical servers, the monetary investments in preparing virtualization software and storage will exceed the cost, and as a result, the cost may not be reduced.
For this reason, it is essential to consider whether virtualization has implementation costs advantage depending on the scale.
3. Performance is inferior to the physical environment
Virtual machines can perform poorly compared to their physical devices. Therefore, it is undeniable that there is some instability when running applications that require strict performance.
If you need a high-speed workplace and stable performance, it may be better to use a physical environment.
Therefore, consider what application you will use and select the most suitable one when using a virtualization environment.
4. Difficulties in support
Most operating systems and application software have not been formally declared to support virtualization architectures.
In the event of a problem, the operating system and application software vendors may not provide technical support services.
Even if technical support services are provided, there may be times when the operating system, application software vendors, and virtualization providers blame each other.
5. Extent of the impact of a physical hardware failure can be large
With virtualization options, multiple applications run on a single piece of powerful hardware. Therefore, if a hardware failure occurs, it can affect all systems running on it.
Since resources are aggregated and used efficiently, the range of impact in the event of a failure may increase.
It is necessary to consider the configuration, such as redundancy against the failure of the physical server or virtual infrastructure.
Since it is necessary to consider redundancy in the physical configuration, it may be possible to take an overall efficient configuration rather than perform redundancy for each remote server.
6. Demand for SAN storage is on the rise
The flexibility of the virtualization architecture depends on SAN (Storage Area Network) storage: once the virtualization architecture is adopted, the demand for SAN storage will increase significantly.
7. Skilled human resources needed
Compared to physical servers, it requires the concept and knowledge of modern virtualization.
It will be necessary to secure human resources that have acquired virtual technology to operate and manage the virtualization network.
The operation method also becomes a little complicated. For example, suppose you have installed and operated multiple applications in one virtual environment.
If you start the backup process for one application, you must also consider the possibility of affecting the process of other applications.
In this way, it may be necessary to consider the operation plan carefully. In some cases, virtualization will make operation management more complicated.
8. Special security management needed
Security management will require extraordinary measures compared to regular servers. In addition to the security measures, the OS and applications take, security management specific to the virtual environment is required.
Also, all servers can synergize in a virtual environment, so you have to think about how and where to protect them.
It will be necessary to systematically consider measures such as blocking the infection route when infected with a virus and security measures for each virtual environment.
In this way, security management can become complicated over a period of time.
9. Selection of virtualization software
Dedicated software is used for virtualization, but more than one virtualization software is currently released.
Many companies stumble on this selection, and it is necessary to be careful in many cases where they fail because they have not installed appropriate virtualization software in their company.
10. One Attack Center
Placing all servers on one computer will make it a target for attacks. If a hacker can burst into the host system, there is a possibility that he can infiltrate virtual servers by using the information on the host server.
11. Dependency on the host system
If the host system has to be restarted, for example, due to updates or hardware replacement, all virtual machines on it are also affected.
These also have to be restarted afterward, which increases the downtime even further. In addition, the number of virtual machines also directly influences the reboot time of the host.
12. Task overload
Suppose you get carried away and turn on too many virtual machines simultaneously. In that case, task overload can occur, and all your virtual machines stop working.
You can install and run only as many virtual machines as your computer can support, as this could end up causing problems later.
13. Scalability issue
You may face the issue of scalability as your business multiplies one day. Due to virtualization, this process may be slower.
Since many larger companies have ample space, small businesses face various problems. Also, the large company can acquire the resources of many small companies, which can harm the other small companies.
14. Availability issue
The availability of personal data is critical as third party stores the data. Once again, the company must trust them.
If organizations are facing issues connecting to such data and struggling to gain access, it can affect their profitability and reduce the company’s income.
Therefore, you must choose the ideal virtualization service provider wisely and ensure that such a thing is already within your reach.
15. Extra layer on the stack
Virtualization installs a hypervisor platform on top of the physical server operating system, allowing virtual servers’ creation and support.
Addition of another layer to the software stack between the applications that the VMs host and the hardware resources they require could affect performance and requires additional drivers that need to be updated periodically.
16. Getting virtual servers up and running is too easy
Virtual servers are much easier to set up and run than physical servers; that’s a benefit, but it can also be a problem.
Users with limited technical experience can spin up a new virtual machine if allowed access, perhaps even without the system administrator’s knowledge.
It can cause multiple issues, including rising operating system license costs, untracked and unattended virtual servers, and potential regulatory compliance issues.
17. Data backup
Backing up operational data becomes more difficult in a virtualized environment because there are more servers, applications, and data stores.
Because you can quickly turn on and off the virtual servers, the backup application must be able to ensure that all relevant business data is copied to the backup media.
Most modern backup applications have virtualization capabilities, but you should ensure that those capabilities fit your environment well. Also, it might take longer to back up additional data with more active servers.
At a Glance (Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtualization)
|Runs under the control of guest operating systems and contains all standard computer components |
Fully compatible with standard operating systems and software
|Can work with outdated software solutions and operating system|
|Create secure environments for working with the network|
|Several virtual machines deployed on the physical resources of one computer are isolated from each other, so the failure of one of the virtual machines will not affect the availability and performance of services and applications of others|
|It can be transferred or copied like any other file|
|Independent of the hardware on which they operate|
|Ideal for training and retraining processes|
|Can create representations of devices that do not physically exist (device emulation)|
|Cost savings through the multiple uses of physical network Infrastructure|
|Virtual network resources can be centrally managed, easily scalable, and dynamically distributed|
|Requires hardware with specific parameters|
|Depending on the solution, the virtual machine’s operating system may run slower than similar hardware.|
|Stops working in the event of a physical server failure|
Recommended to store backups on a separate disk space
|Ensuring the simultaneous operation of several virtual machines will require a sufficient amount of hardware capacity|
|Takes time to make a virtual subsystem that best meets the needs of your system|
Requires adaptation, tests, trial, and error
|Various virtualization platforms do not support the virtualization of all hardware and interfaces.|
|Expertise in virtualization is needed.|
|Performance is lesser than the physical environment.|
|Operating multiple virtual subnets on a physical network requires vital hardware components.|
|The excess physical network infrastructure may be required to ensure durability.|
Currently, virtualization is usually understood as using several virtual machines, depending on the range of tasks to be solved and business needs.
But this is only a tiny part of the potential of virtualization technologies. It already seems a pretty realistic approach to forming a virtual IT infrastructure.
It is difficult to see significant drawbacks in such an approach, which, in addition to flexibility, scalability, and reliability, also promises ease of management and cost reduction.
Perhaps the only limiting factor may be the lack of qualified personnel to form and maintain such an infrastructure.
(Last Updated on August 24, 2022)