Gary Chen

Virtualization: Ready for Tier 1 Apps

Blog Post created by Gary Chen on May 29, 2015

By Gary Chen, IDC Research Manager, Cloud and Virtualization System Software

Sponsored by HDS


Over the past decade, virtualization has grown from a lab experiment to the standard way to deploy servers today. While virtualized servers have become the majority, there are still many bare metal servers in operation. The toughest workloads to virtualize are high-performance mission-critical Tier 1 applications, and many customers are just starting to tackle these apps. There have been many advances over the years that make virtualization more ready than ever to take on the toughest applications.

From a pure performance point of view, the hypervisor has seen numerous optimizations and takes advantage of all the latest virtualization acceleration features in today's CPUs, which reduces the overhead of virtualization. Also, the rest of the virtualization software ecosystem has grown and matured tremendously. Core virtualization packages encompass features such as monitoring, management, storage, and networking, while third-party tools have all become virtualization-aware, making managing a complex virtualized application more reliable than ever.

Hardware has been tuned for virtualization as management use cases became prevalent on servers. Besides the virtualization acceleration features found in the silicon, we've also seen core counts scale out and RAM sizes increase, allowing customers to pack more virtual machines (VMs) onto a server and also run very large VMs. Beyond just the server, the rise of converged infrastructure now integrates storage and networking. Besides the convenience of deployment and easier management for customers, this model also allows for testing and certification across the multiple hardware components and performance tuning — capabilities that are particularly critical when virtualizing Tier 1 applications.

All these factors have made the virtualization of Tier 1 apps possible today, allowing customers to maintain required levels of availability and performance while reaping the many agility and cost-saving benefits of virtualization. A recently released whitepaper by IDC highlights the virtualization of Tier 1 apps on converged infrastructure, and features a case study of a customer that was able to virtualize SAP applications, a complex Tier 1 application used by many customers. Today, even the newest SAP HANA application, which is an in-memory, high-transaction-rate database, is approved for production use in virtualized environments. SAP HANA would be considered a "torture test" application by any measure, and yet today is able to be virtualized, attesting to how far virtualization technology has advanced — the limits of which continue to be expanded.

For more information, please read the recent IDC White Paper, "Virtualizing Tier 1 Applications on Converged Infrastructure" here Virtualizing Tier-1 Applications on Converged Infrastructure.