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Hypervisors

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Introduction

Also known as the virtual machine manager, a hypervisor is a program that can be used to give room for more than a single operating system to share one hardware host. It makes it possible for each of these operating systems to appear as if they are using the memory, the processor, and all other resources that are provided by the host singly. The hypervisor will control all the resources of the host, which includes allocating all the required resources to all the operating systems using the host to ensure that none can disrupt the other. 

The Technical Advantages of Using a Hypervisor in an Enterprise

Hypervisors usually run on servers that are used for both commercial and industrial purposes, and they are able to run on extremely big numbers of operating systems all at one time with no extra hardware. This makes them very useful in virtual networks, which are used to share physical resources from a system, for example, memory, storage media, or other computational capacities. This then makes them very efficient in commercial applications where they allow guests to access operating system over a network for the purposes of either communication or testing. They are also very effective in such establishments as educational centers, companies, and government servers where several different users are able to get their own customized user accounts. Thus, it increases the ease of communication since data can be viewed by the authorized people from the time when one user uploads to same into their user accounts (Yuval, 2008).

Most of the storage systems that are used to provide replication on their own have the ability to only replicate the whole volume of data. This means that the virtual machines in such volumes are replicated even though they do not require similar levels of protection. Therefore, the remote site is required to have the adequate size so that it can be able to receive all these big volumes. The only way out in such occurrences is to come up with several volumes where virtual machines have different criticalities, which makes the whole process and management of storage very complicated. However, using a hypervisor-based replication puts the virtual machines in a position where it will be aware. In places where there are several virtual machines that are sharing the same volume, the system will select some virtual machines that will be replicated. This will make the whole process of storage very easy and consequently lead to a reduction in the required storage size of the disaster recovery site (George, 2012).

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Another advantage of hypervisor is that it is hardware neutral. In most cases, most systems, more so those that are related to storage require that, when one need to replicate their data, they are forced to use storage systems that are related, or similar to their systems. This means that this person will be forced to purchase all theses from similar vendors, and even similar brands. This would significantly lead to an increase in the costs of upgrading. Therefore, a hypervisor system is usually compatible with all types of systems, which makes it easy for the administrator to be more flexible when seeking their solutions. For example, a business enterprise is able to use a large server message block to maintain several storage solutions. They can also use several primary storage systems sourced from different vendors and come up with one solo vendor that is used in the disaster recovery site. This would significantly reduce the complex processes that are undergone in maintaining these disaster recovery sites (George, 2012).

Most enterprises are seeking to platforms that take care of themselves. This can be achieved by developing automated systems, which then increases their ease of usage. This, however, should not compromise the security level of the data in the drives and the system as a whole. The potential to perform can then be increased when movement of data is automated. A good example is the hypervisor replication that is used by Drobo. Drobo has a line of products that usually allow customers to use drives from their own enterprises as they wish where configuration and expansion are usually automatic. Customers usually purchase only one single unit that they use to deploy virtual machine storage that is then scaled for capacity and its performance (George, 2012).

The Technical Disadvantages of Using a Hypervisor in an Enterprise

The major disadvantage of using hypervisor is its high risk of insecurity. Some of these systems usually allow users to interact with the virtual machine container which then makes it very easy for these users to copy and use this data on other platforms. This means that the data is not safe and can be misused on the other platforms where this person uses it. This often increases plagiarism where this information is used by such users on the other platform without giving due credit to the original owner of the same, or even unauthorized circulation of the data. This disadvantage is very common among the type 2 of the hypervisor (Bredehoeft, 2012).

The disadvantage of type 1 hypervisor is that it requires installation of other components to the hardware so as to facilitate it, such as video cards and boards for imaging. The type 1 hypervisor cannot easily run on very large virtual machines. For example, 1000 ginger ite or a maximum of 32 CPUs can be used in a virtual machine. This means that the type 1 hypervisor cannot be used on really large virtual machines.

Microsoft (Hyper-V), VMware (ESXi), and Hitachi’s (Virtage)

The architecture of VMware limits the number and the times which a person can run the ESX server. Although VMware has several different products and technologies, most IT specialists find it very hard for them to actually get what they exactly need since the features are very expensive and do not have an allowance for integration in between them. This keeps most small to mid-sized organizations and enterprises out of reach of these products. Hyper-V can be easily automated, unlike the others, by either using Windows Management Instrument or Windows Power-Shell.

Hyper-V lets the person using it easily manage both the virtual and physical environments since it uses deployments, provisions, monitoring, and backup methods that are commons in both. VMware has a solution for managers where they are able to utilize not only virtual infrastructure but also virtual centers. These tools are also used to manage hypervisors, their physical resources and applications. Hitachi’s Virtage gives an opportunity for IT specialists to have a platform where programs are virtualized in a server and are able to be run in several instances.

The Effect of Hypervisors on the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) in an Enterprise

Generally, hypervisors have largely grown, and there is a need to consider budgets allocated on them so that fewer resources are made use of. The common usage has rendered them a necessity in production computing. The hypervisors have greatly contributed to the development of the inefficient single servers that were in place earlier. Organizations have adopted them to enable efficiency and have become a paramount platform. Following the developments, an interrelation has emerged between servers and storage, for instance, the VMware using SCSI for offloading purposes (Merrill & Heffernan, 2011).

While enterprises embrace the hypervisors, they have to ensure that the total cost of ownership (TCO) they incur allows a profit margin. The activities an enterprise engages in should always meet their sole purpose, which is the maximization of profit. When such is not achieved, their efficiency is nullified, and thus there is the need to consider their cost-friendliness. The costs should be identified and measured, and enterprises should be allowed a chance to prioritize the same aiming at their reduction.  Despite these known costs, several investments are probable to ease the cost of a virtual machine.

There are four established classes under which the total cost of the hypervisors and virtual machines at large can be viewed. These classes are used in the economic considerations of the same and are as follows:

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a)      Purchase Costs

These are those that the enterprise involved incurs only one time unless they require to acquire more or further hypervisors. They are the costs of acquiring a hypervisor and are usually paid to their provider or supplier. The term purchase cost here is cumulative, and the possible adding expenses are expounded below.

The first cost comprising the class of purchase is lease expense. This is the cost of depreciation on any hardware or rather on the tangible. Such would be incurred where there is a decrease in the value of the same probably due to other technology arising in the market or functioning failure.

The software purchase involves the cost of acquiring any inclusive non tangible parts of the hypervisor that are vital for its performance. Software depreciation is also inclusive in this particular family. It focuses on cases where the software depreciated in value while awaiting their sale. It is for the enterprise acquiring the hypervisor to incur such. This cost could as well include the costs that are incurred in the logistics that is during the movement of the components of the technology from their source, to the point where they are to be used.

The class also includes all costs that the enterprise bears in the procurement process of the hypervisor. This includes the miscellaneous amounts that accrue to the parties involved in the process. Other petty costs provided they are incurred for the purpose of purchasing the hypervisors are as well inclusive.

Also, a part of the purchase cost class is the CIFS or NFS related infrastructure. These refer to the Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Network File System (NFS) respectively. These are possible in the networking field and must be met by a potential and willing purchaser, in this case the enterprise (Merrill & Heffernan, 2011).

b)     Operational Costs

This class of costs is one that keeps on recurring, unlike the above discussed purchase costs. As the name suggests, these costs arise as long as the hypervisors continue to be in operation. The costs are mostly continuous, and they continue to occur in the lifetime of the hypervisor at the particular enterprise. They are those incurred during the running of tthe hypervisors. This could also include all the costs that are incurred on expertise that is brought in to facilitate operation of the technology.

This class includes the hardware maintenance costs. This entails the costs of ensuring that the hardware remains in their operational state, and no break downs occur. In case of any, such costs are used to correct possible errors and normal functioning is then restored. The operational state of software is also ensured through the respective maintenance costs for a smooth running in the enterprise at hand.

Operation and run rate costs also include those incurred for purposes of general administration, management or labour in relation to the hypervisor. These would include any costs towards the managing or labour applied to ensure the proper functioning of the enterprise with the hypervisors in efficient use.

The other inclusive cost that goes hand in hand is that of power consumption and cooling for the purposes of maintaining the hypervisors in an operational state.  The cost of monitoring in this case will include the ensuring of the performance, effectiveness and efficiency in the operations involved therein.

The growth and performance are also at stake where the hypervisors have to be kept functional. The other relevancies arise for purposes of data where its control and protection need be ensured by probably coming up with a backup infrastructure.  Protection mechanisms may also be in place for protection in times of disaster, and so should the costs incurred be counted relevant. There also arises the expense of ensuring high security for the hypervisor. Encryption may be involved as a means of security. The costs incurred in such authorizing tasks are classified under the operational family of the costs (Merrill & Heffernan, 2011).

c)      Movement and Other Migration Related Expenses

These arise where movement is involved, and this may be physical or in relation to the data. An example of where such cost would be incurred is where the enterprise is relocating, thus a question on what the hypervisor would cost them for the said purpose. The costs also emanate in cases of re-mastering, data or workload mobility with reference to the effort applied and the time spent to achieve the result. An inclusive consideration is the storage area networking as well as the provisioning time in the event of movements (Merrill & Heffernan, 2011).

d)     Risk and Related Costs

These are costs that the enterprise will incur for any unexpected malfunction on the hypervisors. To start with in this certain class is the costs incurred in scheduled outage. This particular one is different as it is foreseeable and all that is required is for the enterprise, while scheduling the outage, to set apart a certain amount to deal with the risk that the same will bring along. The unexpected include the unscheduled for outages. These may be on the part of the hypervisors, for example, when they suddenly appear to be in fault or on the persons using them in the performance process. The correction of such outages will require costs to be incurred and thus this family.

The class also includes any costs that would be incurred as part of disaster risk. Where any calamity strikes, then the enterprise inclusive of the hypervisor may default and for business to be resumed, then costs must be borne. There is further a cost that the enterprise may be required to bear for the purposes of reducing hazardous wastes that would be harmful to the hypervisors and probably rendering them inefficient. Among the greatest mitigating factors to reduce such costs in this class would be seeking insurance policies on such hypervisors against the discussed risks (Merrill & Heffernan, 2011).

Impact of Hypervisors on System Administration

The information technology sector is one that is very dynamic. The dynamics can change over a very short of time, and if the experts are not keen, they could find themselves being irrelevant. Therefore, when it comes to the use of hypervisors, the management teams as well as other information technology related practitioners need to frequently attend training and conferences that would help them acquit themselves to the changing environment and to learn new ways to tackle the emerging problems and challenges.  At times, the system administrators could not have the relevant information regarding hypervisors. Since, in some enterprises, this is a relatively new technology, they will need to train their system administrators on how to use this technology (Miles Consulting Initiative Solutions, 2013).

Conclusion

As discussed earlier, a hypervisor has numerous technical advantages when used in an enterprise. It also does other financial advantages such as increasing the savings that the company could have used to purchase the resources for each operating system that were easily shared through the hypervisor. Although it does have some costs that are incurred, such as purchasing, installation as well as training for staff, the end results will outdo the expenses. These then make a hypervisor a worthwhile investment for any enterprise. 

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