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The Art of IT: The Virtual Battleground

These are busy times here at NWC. May marked our re-entry into the events business with a four-city road show on data center design. We talked about trends in power and cooling, virtualization as well as service and performance management. Executive editor Bruce Boardman, lab director Ron Anderson and I played to packed houses, and were particularly impressed with the Q&A sessions that followed our presentations.

It seems data centers are hot (pun intended) these days. We found a good many of you have a handle on the nuances of power and cooling. You can no longer depend on pressurized raised floors to deliver sufficient cooling for today's high-density servers and storage systems, so we had some excellent discussions on alternatives.

Virtualization is another matter. There's a good deal of confusion about the pros, cons and even the definitions of processor virtualization and operating system virtualization. Both have been around a while, but processor virtualization has received the bulk of attention lately, through the growing popularity of VMWare and Xen, and the recent virtual technology hardware advances announced by Intel and AMD--which should improve performance and security.

OS virtualization, which provides each application with its own view of OS resources such as memory, I/O, shared libraries and--in the case of Windows--the registry, has gotten less press, but can be just as useful. If the goal is protecting apps from each other and creating an environment where it's easy to move applications (versus the application and its OS) between systems, then OS virtualization is attractive. On the server side, Polyserve and SWsoft's Virtuozzo are products to watch. On the client side, Softricity and Altiris have made the most noise.

Microsoft's Virtual Road Map

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