Virtualisation can mean different things to different people, but at last it’s starting to settle into a single definition in the IT environment. 

What it boils down to is consolidation: the ability to see many storage or server resources as one and manage them as such.
Organisations are tired of hearing about speed and functionality – every vendor offers pretty much the same technologh, with the same benefits to users.
The biggest problem in the server world is the fact that so much of what companies install is ultimately wasted, says Doug Downing, enterprise product manager at Dell.
Every new generation of server is more powerful and faster than the last – but organisations still waste their money because they use just a fraction of their compute capacity.
“What’s the point of all the power if companies only utilise 20% of it anyway – in some instances down to 10% or even 5%?” he asks.
“Organisations have got these great servers what are faster and more powerful, but they’re still not actually using them to capacity.”
The answer to unleashing the power of underutised servers scattered throughout an enterprise is virtualisation, he says.
“Why not pool all these servers together, and have one big server? Now, organisations could hang all their applications off this single server; in the same way that they can hang storage resources off a storage area network (SAN).”
Gaith Kadir, regional vice-president: Middle East & Africa at AMD, explains that virtual technology is the latest in a long line of technical advancements that have increased the level of system abstraction and enabled IT users to harness ever-increasing levels of computer performance.
“Virtualisation essentially decouples users and applications from the specific hardware characteristics of the systems they use to perform computational tasks,” says Kadir.
“This change will usher in an entirely new wave of hardware and software innovation in years to come.
“Virtualisation will simplify system upgrades – and, in some cases, may eliminate the need for such upgrades – by capturing the state of a virtual machine and transporting that state in its entirety from the old to new host system.
“Virtualisation will enable a generation of more energy-efficient computing.
“Processor, memory and storage resources that today must be delivered in fixed amounts determined by real hardware system configurations will be delivered with finer granularity via dynamically tuned virtual machines in the future.”
Kadir adds that almost everyone who uses or supports computer systems stands to benefit from the emergence of advanced virtual technology that enhances the agility and efficiency of server and client systems alike.
“Until now, the benefits from virtualisation came at some cost in terms of application performance, but the latest AMD Athlon 64 processor and AMD Opteron processor, as well as AMD Turion 64 mobile technology, all include AMD-V enhanced hardware that helps reduce the software overhead needed to support virtual machine environments,” he says.
“The x86-based server market grew exponentially over the past decade, driven largely by a philosophy of ‘one application, one server’. However, this approach filled data centre with rack after rack of over-provisioned systems, most operating at less than 15% capacity while consuming power and generating heat on a 24×7 basis.
“Even with these low utilisation rates, IT managers often need to dedicate three separate systems to each application: one to run the application, one to back up the first system in the event of a hardware failure, and one to serve as a development platform for ongoing development and problem analysis.
“AMD believes virtualisation will play a big part in the future of client and server computing, and is backing up its words with a solid roadmap of virtualisation solutions.”