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Community Blog Empower Your Business with Virtual Servers

Empower Your Business with Virtual Servers

Technologies for servers are changing rapidly nowadays, knowing the pros and cons of virtual servers vs physical servers will help you to find the suitable server for your business.

The server world has undergone two major evolutionary steps in recent years and a third is underway right now.

The first step is the move to virtualization. The trouble with physical servers is that they are expensive to run and maintain. Even if you run a busy company, chances are that most of your servers are not very busy, most of the time. So although you might have 10 boxes (email, web, documents, backups, intranet, customer database and so on) it was not uncommon for CPU usage on those servers to remain at less than 10% for most of the day. Even less at night. It’s inefficient and costly.

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Virtualization changed the way that people managed servers. Those 10 physical boxes were replaced by a single box containing lots of RAM, processors and disk space (often as a Storage Area Network). The physical box no longer ran an operating system such as Windows Server or Linux, but instead ran a hypervisor such as VMware. IT staff could then create a virtual server on that box, which behaved just like a physical one on its own hardware but was actually running as an isolated task on the box.

Virtualization wasn’t, and indeed isn’t, without its problems. It’s very easy – sometimes too easy – to create new VMs. Early research suggested that companies which switched from physical to virtual servers typically ended up with 11 times as many servers as they had before.

Virtualization is, on the whole, way more efficient than using separate physical servers. When one VM isn’t particularly busy, its virtual CPU will be used by a different VM instead of standing idle.

The second evolution is the move to the cloud. Companies stopped hosting their own physical servers in their own physical data centers and began renting VMs from providers such as Alibaba Cloud. You can create a new virtual server on Alibaba Cloud in just five minutes for less than $5, and delete it just as quickly if you no longer need it. Financing servers can now be done on expenses via an employee’s credit card rather than being a major CapEx project.

And the third evolution is called container technology and the word you’ll hear most often is Docker. For details, you can go to Contain Yourself! The Virtual Machine Is Evolving.

Related Information

What Is Serverless Computing?

Over the last few decades, Enterprise IT has evolved at a rapid pace, from physical servers, to virtual machines and to containerization technology.

The first generation of computing was based on Von Neumann architecture and employed fixed programs. These programs were usually tightly coupled with the hardware they ran on. As we transitioned to disk-based storage, the operating system became less dependent on the hardware it ran on. However, software applications came to resemble like a "monolith" in which the user interface and data access code were combined into a single program running on one platform. These monoliths were self-contained and any changes needed to the functionality required a huge undertaking. While the operating systems became less dependent on the hardware they ran on, the applications themselves became more dependent on the specific operating system. In early 2000s, if we had to launch a new application, we probably had to plan purchase of a new server first. So in summary, the physical server were the building block of an application.

Then in 2001, virtualization technology started to gain traction as the hardware became commoditized (especially x86 based architecture) and made virtual machines very popular. Hypervisor software, made popular by companies such as VMWare, made it easy to create virtual machines. By running many virtual machines on one physical device, the need to buy physical servers became less and the architectural building block shifted from a physical server to a virtual machine.

What Is Virtualization?

Normally when we run an OS, we need to run each OS on a dedicated physical server. If we need to run more than one operating system simultaneously, we need multiple servers to run all of them, because one physical server is required per one operating system. This means that running multiple operating systems is an expensive endeavor. You not only need to buy a lot of physical servers, you would also need to spend more on the operations and maintenance (O&M) of these servers.

Now, you have better option – virtualization.

Virtualization allows you to separate the operating system from the underlying hardware, which means you can run multiple operating systems such as Windows and Linux, at the same on a single physical machine. These operating systems are called guest OSes (operating systems). Virtualization allows you to save money and time.

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EBM Instance overview

This topic describes ECS Bare Metal (EBM) Instances and the instance type families that provide EBM Instance types (specifically, high-clock speed type family ebmhfg5, compute type family ebmc4, and general-purpose type family ebmg5). And you can find some comparison information of EBM Instances, physical machines, and virtual machines here.

Migrate your physical server to Alibaba Cloud ECS

This topic describes how to migrate your physical server to Alibaba Cloud ECS virtual instances.

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How to Use the Alibaba Cloud Migration Tool

Migration strategy differs from case to case basis, however as a whole, cloud migration should be based on best practices from previous examples. An effective migration strategy should maintain a reliable, real-time migration, with less or zero down time. Migration can be broadly categorized into physical to virtual (cloud migration), virtual to virtual (multi-cloud), and virtual to physical (hybrid cloud). Migration can have any combination of these categories.

In this article, we are focused on physical to virtual and virtual to virtual migration. Here the target is going to be Alibaba Cloud platform. This whole process involves Alibaba tools for image conversion, OSS for storage, & some third-party tools to synchronize the data in real time.

Improving Automotive Simulation Efficiency with Alibaba Cloud E-HPC

The HPC cluster computing node, which powered the ANSYS Fluent CFD simulation of an F1 racing car model during the live show, is composed of SCCH5 instances.

Backed by Alibaba Cloud's next-generation Elastic Compute Service (ECS) Bare Metal Instance (X-Dragon), SCC not only has the elastic resource advantages of cloud computing, but also has the performance of physical machines. Moreover, SCC supports high-speed remote direct memory access (RDMA) interconnection, which greatly improves network performance and the large-scale cluster acceleration ratio. These are unique features of SCC.

The following formula can be used to describe SCC capabilities: SCC = ECS Bare Metal Instance + RDMA network. According to He Wanqing, a senior technical expert and the director of the Alibaba Cloud HPC division, "SCC has a heart of a virtual machine, muscles of a physical machine, and a nervous system of a high-speed network."

Compared with traditional physical machines, ECS Bare Metal Instance has no difference in the computing performance. It also features secure physical isolation.

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ECS Bare Metal Instance

Based on next-generation virtualization technology independently developed by Alibaba Cloud, ECS Bare Metal Instance features both the elasticity of a virtual server and the high-performance and comprehensive features of a physical server. Compared with its predecessor, the next-generation virtualization technology of these instances excel in supporting standard Elastic Compute Service (ECS) and nested virtualization technology. This enables you to retain the elasticity capability of common ECS while delivering the same user experience as physical servers.

Dedicated Host

DDH is a solution for security and regulation implementation and flexible resource deployment, which allows you to allocate dedicated hardware resources, such as CPU, memory, and network resources, to isolate physical servers for sensitive business data.

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