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Virtualization Memory Demands Increasing

Virtualization has created plenty of opportunity for IT, but it’s also created some new concerns

Virtualization has created plenty of opportunity for IT, but it’s also created some new concerns. One of the major issues facing virtualization managers today is the need for resources. The traditional formula for determining memory requirements is shifting, as more and more users bump up the memory requirements for virtual machines.

Just to illustrate the point, let’s take a look at a recent statistic. In 2010, a single average virtual machine required provisioning of twice the amount of RAM that the same machine had in 2009.

Memory in a virtual environment
When you have a virtual environment, memory is assigned to particular virtual machines in accordance with usage. If you underprovision, you’re going to take a performance hit. A given virtual machine may have to page, retrieving data from slower storage media. You want to assign at least as much physical memory to a given VM as the guest memory usage.

How we’re using RAM in virtual environments
According to a recent survey, the average range of RAM per VM was about 1.5 to 2 GB. Just one year ago, the average range was 500 MB to 1 GB. That’s a vast jump in a relatively short amount of time.

Not only that, the number of VMs needing more than 2 GB of RAM went from 32 percent a year ago to 42 percent today. Shops that assigned under 1 GB of RAM fell from 27 percent to 14 percent.

Why the increase?
There are a couple of reasons that enterprises are having to assign more memory to VMs. One is the advent of the 64-bit operating system. Windows Server 2008 seems to have had a tremendous impact on the field. Whereas Windows Server 2003 was 32-bit and could only see 4 GB worth of RAM, Windows Server 2008 can handle 8 GB or more.

Applications are requiring more memory, as well. Java applications are on the increase, and Java is a well-known memory hog. Memory allocation relates, largely, to what the VM is doing.

It’s likely that this exponential growth may level off at some point. Fortunately, we’re in a good spot; hardware manufacturers have found more ways to fit more RAM on a given server, making much more available to a single VM.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.