The ability to run multiple virtual machines (VMs) on single server hardware platforms provides cost, system management, and flexibility advantages in IT infrastructure today. Hosting multiple VMs on single hardware platforms reduces hardware expenses and helps minimize infrastructure costs such as power consumption and cooling. Consolidating operationally distinct systems as VMs on single hardware platforms simplifies managing those systems through administrative layers such as the open source virtualization library (
libvirt) and tools that are based on it, such as the graphical Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Virtualization also provides the operational flexibility required in today's service-oriented, high-availability IT operations by making it possible to migrate running VMs from one physical host to another when mandated by hardware or physical plant problems or to maximize performance through load balancing or in response to increasing processor and memory requirements.
Open source desktop virtualization applications such as VirtualBox make it possible for users and even some small enterprise (small to medium-sized business or small to medium-sized enterprise) environments to run multiple VMs on single physical systems. However, virtualization environments such as VirtualBox run as client applications on desktop or server systems. Enterprise computing environments require higher-performance, server-oriented virtualization environments that are closer to the physical hardware (the "bare metal"), enabling VMs to execute with far less operating system overhead. Bare-metal virtualization mechanisms can better manage hardware resources and can also best take advantage of the hardware support for virtualization that is built into most 64-bit x86 and PowerPC processors.
Read more at IBM developerWorks.