Part four in a series. Greg Schulz is the founder of StorageIO and the author of The Green and Virtual Data Center.
Virtual data centers enable data mobility, resiliency, and improved IT efficiency. There are many approaches and technologies that can be used to enable a green and virtual data center addressing different issues and requirements. Virtualization is a popular approach to consolidate under-utilized IT resources including servers, storage, and I/O networks to free up floor-space, lower energy consumption, and reduce cooling demands, all of which can result in cost savings. However, virtualization, specifically consolidation, applies to only a small percentage of all IT resources.
A virtual data center can, and should, be thought of as an information factory that needs to run 24/7, 365 days a year, to deliver a sustained stream of useful information. For the information factory to operate efficiently, it needs to be taken care of and seen as a key corporate asset. Seen as an asset, the IT factory can be invested in to maintain and enhance productivity and efficiency, rather than being considered a cost center or liability.
The primary focus of enabling virtualization technologies across different IT resources is to boost overall effectiveness while improving application service delivery (performance, availability, responsiveness, security) to sustain business growth in an economic and environmentally friendly manner. That is, most organizations do not have the luxury, time, or budget to deploy virtualization or other green-related technologies and techniques simply for environmental reasons -- there has to be a business case or justification.
Virtual data centers, regardless of whether new or existing, require physical resources including servers, storage, networking, and facilities to support a diverse and growing set of application capabilities while sustaining business growth. In addition, applications need to be continually enhanced to accommodate changing business rules and enhance service delivery. Application enhancements include ease of use, user interfaces, and rich media (graphics and video, audio and intuitive help), along with capturing, storing, and processing more data.