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There has been a great deal of industry buzz around "virtualization" as it relates to SOA. This is with good reason, as business continually drives IT to accomplish more with fewer resources.

Huge rewards are being reaped by eliminating servers from enterprise IT operations. But outside the data center, for the rest of the SOA application lifecycle, our ability to benefit from virtualization only goes so far. When you start thinking more from a test and development resources perspective, and the availability of the actual implementation for the purposes of validating and developing for SOA, you realize that we need to extend virtualization into the actual distributed software components and services running on those environments.

Let's define how virtualization techniques and technologies can be applied in today's enterprise development and deployment lifecycles.

Hardware Virtualization

The first and most often mentioned type of virtualization is hardware virtualization. This is not an SOA-specific thing. This is when you're running many copies of the operating system within one physical hardware device so that you can get independence of those several virtual machines from each other.

I certainly like this technology, especially in a SOA, as this can help with deployment efficiencies and versioning of services. The more I can isolate the configurations for all the individual applications running on a server to support my services, the better.

It would be ideal if I could share one server-class machine among, let's say, 10 different services . But if I tried to put them all on one operating system, I inherently have configuration challenges due to the co-location of the services on one box. This creates conflict when different teams want the optimal environment for their service implementations. In fact there are some times when they are just downright mutually exclusive.

That's where virtualization of hardware comes in. I still get that one server box, but within it I set up 10 different operating system installs on one physical infrastructure, and I am able to independently manage all of those different machines, each having its own configuration.


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