We spoke to Intel about why virtualisation is so hot right now, and where it's headed as a technology.

Intel is embracing the trend to virtualise across a broad range of business facets, from security to multiple core central processing units (CPUs).

The company currently has teams working on hardware features to assist with virtualised environments, and is embracing an open approach to the technology by partnering with major independent software Vendors (ISVs) such as VMware and Microsoft, as well as open-source communities.

Peter Kerney is the senior solution architect at Intel Australia. A leading enterprise technical specialist, he is experienced in high performance computing, virtualisation, broadcast and simulation technologies. PC Advisor spoke to Kerney about his thoughts on why virtualisation is so hot right now, and where it's headed as a technology.

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PCA: Why, in your opinion, is virtualisation so hot right now?

PK: Virtualisation is one of the tools that a business can use to solve a number of the IT problems that they face. Depending on the usage model that they are applying virtualisation to, it may be used for server consolidation, disaster recovery, load balancing (better usage of resources) and many other tasks.

This can lead to savings in management, down time, energy usage and so on. This is why many/most organisations have virtualisation in their plans. In itself, virtualisation will not deliver these outcomes, rather it is a tool to help an enterprise to realise these benefits.

PCA: Where do you think input/output (I/O) and virtualisation are headed? Why?

PK: I/O virtualisation can mean different things to different people. Some consider I/O virtualisation to mean that the storage in an organisation is virtualised and the applications and user do not need to know the mapping to physical resources.

For Intel, we have technology that we refer to as Virtualisation Technology VT for Device IO. This is some hardware features that Intel is building into the chipset to allow virtual guest OS's to realise near native performance for I/O to physical storage devices. This has typically been an area where performance has been impacted in a virtualised environment.

PCA: Where do you think the industry is headed in terms of security and virtualisation?

PK: Intel is exploring a number of security usage models for virtualisation. This is one area that Intel sees as being an excellent reason to introduce virtualisation on the desktop.

By using virtualisation, an enterprise may deploy secure-hardened applications to the desktop that are more tamper resistant and therefore the enterprise IT organisation can rely on the integrity of the application environment. This is just one usage of virtualisation that provides security benefits.

NEXT PAGE: How multiple core technology in CPUs will affect the future of virtulisation and the reasons we will use the technology in the future

  1. The future of Intel and virtualisation
  2. Multiple core technology in CPUs and virtualisation
  3. New developments in virtualisation

Intel is among the companies embracing the current trend for virtulisation. We spoke to senior solution architect at Intel Australia Peter Kerney to get the low-down on the technology and its future.

PCA: In CPU development it appears its becoming more and more expensive to increase CPU speeds, but the number of cores is increasing. Do you believe that the expansion of multiple core technology in CPUs will impact the future of virtualisation? If so, how?

PK: As Intel introduces products with more and more cores, certainly virtualisation is one way of utilising this extra processing power by consolidating a number of workloads onto the platforms.

This is not the only way to take advantage of multiple cores. ISVs are seeing the benefits of parallelising their applications in order to realise these higher performance levels in a non-virtualised environment as well.

PCA: In your experience, what are people using virtualisation for now? What is the most common reason and why? Do you think this will be changing in the future?

PK: As already mentioned, virtualisation can be used in a number of different usage models. There are figures available from third-party research organisations that break down the most common usages.

From memory, I think that server consolidation is the most common one right now. I think that some of the virtualisations vendors such as VMware have some excellent data on this.

There appear to be two common trends at the moment: the first is where the enterprise takes a few big expensive machines and virtualises everything on them, and the second is for the enterprise to get many more small cheap machines and to make a small cluster out of them so that it doesn't matter if one or two go down.

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PCA: Is this what you're seeing? Which trend do you think will dominate? Which way of doing things do you think is better?

PK: The first method you describe is server consolidation. As mentioned previously this is just one usage model. The other method is a virtual pool of compute resources or a cluster.

There is not one approach that will apply to all enterprise workloads. There is still a place for large scale systems as well as clusters of smaller nodes. It is very much application specific as to which platform infrastructure is more appropriate for a given workload.

NEXT PAGE: Developments in virtualisation and the steps Intel is taking to bring this technology to consumers

  1. The future of Intel and virtualisation
  2. Multiple core technology in CPUs and virtualisation
  3. New developments in virtualisation

As consumers become more aware of virtualisation, the big computer companies are ramping up their efforts into utilising the technology in our everyday lives. We spoke to senior solution architect at Intel Australia Peter Kerney to find out Intel's views of the future of virtulisation.

PCA: What are customers wanting to see from virtualisation?

PK: Virtualisation is one of the tools that a customer may use to realise their IT goals. Different customers have different outcomes that they are expecting from the use of server virtualisation.

As mentioned, some of the uses for virtualisation are reductions in power and thermals and an increase in server utilisation through server consolidation. Others might be looking for the flexibility that virtualisation gives to meet the agility requirements for their IT organisation.

Also there is the disaster recovery usage model that may be the driving factor for some. There is no one specific value of virtualisation that is the driver for every enterprise.

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PCA: What do you think the next new development in virtualisation will be? How far do you think this technology can be taken?

PK: Intel is working on a number of new technologies that make its products the platform of choice for virtualised environments. The only ones that can answer this question are the customers and how virtualisation can solve their IT business problems.

What is Intel currently doing in this space and where do you think the organisation will be headed in the future?

Intel works very closely with all members of the virtualisation ecosystem. We not only have teams working on hardware features to assist in virtualised environments, we also have other groups that are working with the major ISVs such as VMware, Microsoft and the open-source communities.

We also work with the enterprise customers to understand what they need from our products to help them solve their business problems.

  1. The future of Intel and virtualisation
  2. Multiple core technology in CPUs and virtualisation
  3. New developments in virtualisation