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February 2015

How virtualization changes hardware purchases

With the rise of the software-defined data center and new hardware options that take advantage of virtualization, we're seeing another transformation in the way hardware is purchased.

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  • Purchasing servers in a virtualized world

    Virtualization creates the foundation of a software-defined data center, an arrangement by which all elements of an IT infrastructure are delivered as a service. This requires the virtualization of networks, storage and servers, a configuration that is said to streamline operations, improve uptime, and lower both capital and operating costs. This puts two important questions to the forefront:

    • How does all this virtualization change the requirements of a physical data center?
    • And in what ways do these new realities change how hardware is purchased?

    With software taking an increasingly prominent role in the data center, some IT experts argue that hardware has become commoditized and that conventional thinking about choosing servers needs to be adjusted. Are rackmount servers the right fit for virtualization, or can blades play a role? Does the size of an IT operation determine the best choice of server type? And what factors should be considered in determining whether white box systems can do the job? This chapter looks at these and related questions, including converged infrastructure, to provide insight into how organizations should think about server purchases in an era of the software-defined data center.

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  • How using flash storage affects an IT infrastructure

    Storage plays a significant role in virtualized environments, and IT professionals are continually examining how to adapt to best practices. Flash technology, in particular, is changing how administrators approach storage. As prices for solid-state drives (SSD) drop, admins are finding that affordable server-side cache can dramatically improve VM performance. The trick is determining which types and form factors of flash show the biggest returns on investment. Solid-state drives have improved storage performance and latency. And at the same time, their costs are falling. This combination makes SSD/flash storage an increasingly attractive option for data-center administrators. In fact, half of the respondents to a recent TechTarget survey said their companies are already using some form of flash storage. This is most commonly accomplished through a mix of hard disk and flash technologies.

    These hybrid arrays provide data center admins a cost-effective means of boosting application performance. But to make an investment in SSD/flash pay off, an organization needs to carefully understand the form factors, the costs and the particular problems it hopes to solve. This chapter looks at those considerations, with the goal of helping IT decision-makers identify if and how wider use of SSD/flash can bolster their data center's performance. By examining these and related questions, including converged infrastructure, SearchServerVirtualization contributors provide insight into how organizations should think about hardware purchases in an era of the software-defined data center.

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