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March 2010 | Volume 13 / Number 3
Virtualization Reality

Server and Storage Virtualization: The Enterprise Cloud Platform

It’s impossible to talk about any technology in the data center without the topic of the cloud coming up in conversation. Since the cloud began making its way into common IT lexicon, virtualization has been in lockstep with cloud solutions, often thrown around as a requirement for cloud computing. In particular, server and storage virtualization solutions are typically considered to be the first step in moving any part of IT into the cloud.

The primary driver behind the explosive growth of cloud computing is to bring business agility to IT. More and more, IT services and processes are being dictated by a business need over a technical one. This “the business drives IT” model gave birth to software as a service, a model that’s been widely adopted throughout enterprise IT. Virtualization extends that flexible model to IT infrastructure and enables cloud agility through scalability, adaptability, and management.

Newer cloud concepts, such as infrastructure as a service and platform as a service rely heavily on underlying virtualized systems that provide that necessary mobility.

Virtualization can – and often should – be a key component of a successful cloud strategy, but it’s not a hard and fast requirement. The only requirement for any cloud architecture is that it must be fluid, enabling services to be created and destroyed dynamically based on need. Server and storage virtualization contribute to a dynamic cloud environment by allowing computing, network, and storage resources to be allocated as needed. It becomes extremely difficult to manage a truly dynamic environment relying solely on physical resources, although it can be accomplished utilizing a very sophisticated matrix of monitoring, management, and near-limitless hardware resources. The physical model is not the norm, however; it is much more common and accessible for an enterprise to begin building a dynamic data center on top of server virtualization platforms such as those from VMware and Microsoft (News - Alert).

The long list of virtual platform benefits helps enable a dynamic cloud, be it one that’s internal as an enterprise cloud or an external cloud with a cloud provider. Cloud computing has exploded throughout enterprise IT because it allows business agility, agility that’s supported and provided by a strong virtualized infrastructure. While it may be possible to build a cloud solution – or outsource to an external cloud provider – in a purely physical environment, it’s certainly not advisable to launch a cloud solution without first looking at how virtualization can make your own data center more dynamic. IT

Alan Murphy is technical marketing manager of management and virtualization solutions with F5 Networks (News - Alert) (

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