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Mission-Critical applications are the last frontier for virtualization technology. Performance and practicality have been two impediments that have made IT groups hesitant to go virtual with mission critical applications. While virtualization technology is getting better, performance is still a concern when running applications. ’Paravirtual‘ technology, for example, minimizes the virtualization penalty for performing I/O. Without paravirtualization, virtualized applications with extensive I/O and disk-bound operations, like content management, can pay a heavy toll with virtualization. Performance can be degraded by as much as 60 percent.
IT departments in their quest to virtualize have targeted smaller applications first which require fewer resources and support relatively low traffic.
But, does it make sense to virtualize Mission-Critical applications? Almost by definition, mission-critical applications are large, heavily-utilized, can’t-live-without applications. Mission critical apps tend to be big and and often are resource hogs, maxing out of the resources of a single physical machine. For large applications like that, the benefits, if any, derived from virtualization may be small.
Art Whittmann of InformationWeek commented “For larger, complex, mission-critical systems, the tradeoff in going virtual is less about performance and more about the testing and validation it takes to make that virtualized transition. It’s not trivial, it takes time, and for just about 100% of IT organizations to whom I’ve talked, it takes resources that they really just don’t have. That leaves most organizations with one-half to two-thirds of their systems virtualized. They’ve done the easy stuff, the rest is much harder.”
But then there are those that think virtualization can improve any environment, even mission-critical ones. For example, Shane Vinup, president and CEO of Maple Grove, said in a CRN article that ”We recently did an ERP migration into a virtualized environment. We used the same exact same hardware and got better performance by moving from internal disk to SAN using virtualization.”
CTOEdge reports on a survey from Information Technology Intelligence Corp. (ITIC) and found that the number of mission-critical applications that will be deployed virtual machines is gearing up to substantially increase. The report finds that 79 percent of companies already are currently running mission-critical application in virtual environments. But despite the increased use of virtualization and the consolidation of physical machines, IT departments say that their computer operations are only increasing in complexity.