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Virtualization's Next Stage

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Virtualization came into the data center as a force for server consolidation. Now the next generation of virtualization technology is reaching beyond that into middleware, treating application servers as a virtual resource that can be marshaled to meet a variety of applications' needs and service-level agreements.

Early server consolidation consisted of creating virtual machines that partitioned servers into defined amounts of memory and CPU shares, with each partition running its own operating system and application. Because the boundaries of the partition were strictly defined, one piece of hardware could run multiple virtual machines safely, so server utilization rates went up and the number of servers companies needed to buy and manage went down.

Now experienced virtualization implementers, such as pharmaceutical company Pfizer, want to bring similar benefits to more of the IT stack. Pfizer's core business unit, Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals, plans to virtualize more of the company's middleware, particularly its BEA Systems' WebLogic application servers, and use them as a flexible, dynamically allocatable resource.

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