Quiz: Are you a server-virtualization expert? The Answers!

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The wording of choice (c) pretty much spells out the problem. Once a data center tells business groups (often proudly) that it can provision a new virtual machine within a few hours, human nature tends to take over and businesses go berserk, submitting requests for virtual machines that they might have hesitated to ask for if they had to wait for physical hardware to be budget-approved, ordered, delivered, installed, and made ready for use. Some experts call the result "VM sprawl". Worse still, when a project is cancelled or the development work is completed, can business groups be relied on to notify the data center that the virtual machine can be deleted? Of course not. As a result, little-used, no-longer-used, and never-used virtual machines tend to accumulate, each one consuming an operating system license and possibly other licenses (for databases, software tools, and purchased application software). As a result, software licensing costs tend to rise over time in conjunction with VM sprawl -- until someone calls for a full-scale audit of license usage.

12. Compared with a traditional server data center, a data center that makes extensive use of server virtualization requires:

  1. Approximately 25% fewer staff to support the servers and operating systems
  2. Roughly the same number of staff to support the servers and operating systems
  3. Approximately 25% more staff to support the servers and operating systems
Expert-favored answer: B

The largest part of the work done in a data center tends to be driven by the number of "servers", and it makes no difference whether these are standard servers or virtual machines. Each virtual machine requires the same level of attention as a standard server when it comes to responding to trouble tickets, managing operating-system and application-software updates and patches, managing security issues, monitoring performance, and so on. The small reduction in total work achieved by having to install physical machines at a slower rate tends to be offset by the extra work involved in installing and configuring VMware and other server-virtualization platforms on each new machine. As a result, most data centers find that the total required number of staff remains constant. (Note, however, that staff will have to be trained to manage the new environment. It is possible that some staff will not be up to this challenge; and so some adjustments to staffing will be required, leading to some short-term increases in staffing or use of contractors until the dust settles.)

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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