Virtualization and Green Computing

Article by Jayabalan Subramanian

A data center consumes the power that can otherwise be used to power thousands of homes. The huge levels of power consumption is what makes data centers and environmentalists look for ways to reduce the power used and make data centers far more energy efficient than they currently are.

Thinking on it, is virtualization the answer for reducing power consumption by data centers? It most definitely is. What is one of the most important purposes of virtualization? One of the primary goals of almost all forms of virtualization is to make the most efficient use of available system resources. Virtualization results in far more efficient use of resources, including energy. Defining virtualization in a simple way, to virtualize is to make a single piece of hardware function as multiple parts. Different user interfaces isolate different parts of the hardware, thereby making each one behave and function as an individual, separate entity. In the context of a data center, installing virtual infrastructure allows several operating systems and applications to run on a lesser number of servers, helping to reduce the overall energy used for the data center and for its cooling.

Once the number of servers is reduced, it also means that data center can reduce the building size as well. Some of the advantages of Virtualization which directly impacts efficiency and contributes to the environment include:

  1. Planned downtime is eliminated by migrating virtual machines from one physical server to another
  2. Dynamically balance workloads across a server group and provide automatic failover for virtualized applications
  3. Resource allocation are better monitored and managed
  4. Virtualization exponentially increases a server group’s ability to share resources
  5. Server utilization rates can be increased up to 80% as opposed to an initial 10-15%

The energy saved per server would translate into approximately 7000 Kilo Watt hours per year, which is big
With such tremendous potential for energy savings, Virtualization is the best to practice green computing, especially data centers in India. They are two sides of a coin, and this coin is worth keeping in your pocket!