Virtualizing ITIL Service Management
One of the major growth trends in IT over the last few years has been the virtualization of the data center. This virtualization provides obvious cost benefits through consolidating and maximizing hardware utilization. This area, while currently dominated by VMware, is being challenged recently by Citrix with their new XenServer product line. These solutions focus around hypervisors to abstract the core operating system from the underlying hardware. The true value of virtualization lies not just in their ability to run many operating systems side by side, but their ability to manage resource pools across each of these systems.
Virtualizing your LiveTime Service Management system has become very popular since we released our virtual appliance in 2007. It is now available as a 64 bit appliance with support for VMware, XenServer and the Open Virtualization Format (OVF). We have seen more than 30% of customers move to this platform over the last 2 years, significantly simplifying installation and maintenance. The configuration menu provides access to the key functions of the operating system as well as utilization statistics. Installation times have moved from hours with a traditional install to minutes. Not only is this virtualization great for production environments, but equally useful in test environments, where you can spin up a new instance for training or development as needed using desktop virtualization tools from VMware, Citrix and Sun.
One of the key advantages of this approach, is that LiveTime takes care of the core infrastructure for you so you can be sure it has been secured and optimized for content delivery. The virtual machine is based around LiveTime’s own JeOS (Just Enough Operating System), a Linux distribution that has been specifically tuned for LiveTime performance.
Other virtualization techniques
There are of course many other types of virtualization architectures that predate the hypervisor, often referred to as operating system-level virtualization. Rather than isolating each operating system, these systems virtualize at the OS layer itself, and provide significantly less overhead when running a high number of logical systems. Instead of loading up a new OS on the hypervisor, you can leverage the core operating system and divide it into separate zones. Solaris Containers provide a good model for this type of virtualization. The disadvantage of this approach is that all applications must run on the same OS. LiveTime is often deployed in this model when run by managed service providers. These providers can operate hundreds of instances on the same hardware using different zones offering LiveTime under the Software as a Service (SaaS) model.
LiveTime also offers one other virtualization technique for even higher instance counts and optimized memory utilization. This is called application virtualization, where LiveTime is virtualized on an instance basis within the same Java Virtual Machine. In this case LiveTime instances are managed from LiveTime’s application server instance manager. This approach leverages resources across instances for faster response times at the expense of application isolation.
Each virtualization model provides its own benefits. Increased isolation through a hypervisor is the preferred mechanism for corporate installations, while OS and Application virtualization is more suited to SaaS providers offering LiveTime as a service to it’s own customer network.