As virtualized networks grow in size, company IT managers and IT divisions find themselves in the position of needing more space for a smaller dollar footprint as their CIOs give them less and less to work with. Physical servers are now gradually being phased out as IT departments see the cost savings in a switch to a virtual environment, combined with the ability to easily access more storage. On paper, it seems like the perfect solution for any company.
In reality, however, there are a number of issues impacting virtual performance and causing problems for companies that are trying to move more fully into a virtual environment. The most obvious is one that was a mainstay of the physical server world as well – sprawl. As more and more data is stored, often in redundant and illogical spaces, a virtual server or servers can become bloated and I/O throughput can suffer, causing a number of spikes and dips that result in poor performance.
To address the issue, one of the first things that must be managed is the communication between the host and the virtual machines it runs, and a number of providers are now developing software that will address this problem. In order to create a space in which I/O performance is both predictable and at the right speed, optimized software solutions are necessary – ones that can detect virtual disk types, compact virtual space and ensure that data is written contiguously.
Currently, no all-in-one solution exists to address these I/O problems, but steps are being taken to make virtual sprawl less invasive and to limit I/O spikes overall. Speed is a necessity, but making sure that virtual servers run in a clean, streamlined environment is even more so.