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Computer Virtualization

The latest trend that has gripped the IT industry today is computer virtualization, which refers to the practice of creating a virtual version of a device or resource, such as a server, an operating system, data, hardware, a storage device, and other network resources. Virtualization is done by dividing a physical entity into multiple virtual entities by using virtualization software. Microsoft’s HyperV and VMware’s vSphere are examples of virtualization software that help transform the hardware components of a computer, such as CPU, RAM, and storage, into an independent virtual entity or a ‘virtual machine’ capable of running its own operating system and other applications in a similar manner as the physical computer.

The main four areas of IT, in which virtualization is primarily used, include desktop virtualization, storage virtualization, network virtualization, and memory virtualization. Desktop virtualization separates the actual physical machine from a logical desktop. The most common form of desktop virtualization is achieved by hosting multiple virtual machines for multiple users, using only one or a few actual physical host desktop servers. Storage virtualization makes files accessible from multiple hosts using a distributed file system that appears as a large storage to the user. Network virtualization allows logical division of network bandwidth without actually physically dividing the network bandwidth. This allows specific users or applications to use a part of the network without sharing it with others. Memory virtualization creates an illusion of a huge random access memory or working memory by aggregating resources within a network into a single memory pool.

In virtualization, the capacity to divide a single physical computer into numerous virtual machines provides many benefits. The four key benefits of virtualization include the following:

  1. Virtualization helps achieve more out of the existing resources. For instance, in server virtualization, the focus is laid on improving the utilization of server storage space, and one single physical server being able to run multiple server instances, the wastage of resources is eliminated.
  2. Virtualization also reduces costs required for installing and maintaining physical infrastructure, thereby improving productivity.
  3. Virtualization makes the backup process and the recovery of a system easy in the case of a system failure.
  4. Virtualization increases the operational flexibility by making the process of installation, maintenance, deployment and migration of data easier than the traditional system in which the same is a lengthy and complex process.

With further advancement in Information Technology, more innovations in the area of virtualization are coming into shape. New virtualization softwares and techniques are being used to improve the utilization of the resources in the existing areas. Furthermore, Nested Virtualization, which is one of the newest computer virtualization techniques, simulates one virtual machine within another, creating a multi-layered virtualization. In the coming days, virtualization will be used more frequently and will help centralize the administrative tasks while improving the workload of the overall system and the scalability of a network.