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What is virtualization?




We all have heard about the Cloud, for the most part. It’s this neat little place where you can store data and get software applications for a fraction of what it would normally cost at the retail level.  But there are other terms that get used with the Cloud that cause confusion.  One of these terms is “Virtualization”.

Virtualization is sort of like using a Cloud like environment; but how it works is completely different. The basic idea behind Virtualization is to be able to take a single computer (whether it be a workstation, a tablet, notebook, laptop, or even a server) and create multiple environments from that one source.

Imagine a server, and you as a Network Admin.  Obviously, the server will reside physically in just one location at the business, but you want to be able to access it from wherever you are at in case of an emergency. This is what Virtualization does.  It allows you to connect physically to that server from another computer that you may be at, and get the exact same desktop environment.

So, if an emergency ever arises, you do not have to run back to that server to log in. You can just login from the computer you are currently at, and respond appropriately from there.  This is just a super sophisticated way of being able to remotely login.

This remote connection is established via the “Hypervisor.” This allows you, the Network Admin, to create multiple environments (also known as “instances”) on that one server in various locations within the office. These multiple environments are also known specifically as “Virtual Machines (VMs),” and one of the primary functions of the Hypervisor is to divide up the computing resources and processing power equally amongst the VMs.

Think of it this way:  Your physical server is the actual brain, and you are replicating that brain into multiple ones, so resources can be accessed readily and easily to all employees in the business.

However, managing all of these Virtual Servers (or multiple brains) is not such an easy task, and it does take a bit of work.  This task is done efficiently through what is known as the “Virtualization Management Console.” This is where you can access all the instances in one central location.

Through this, you literally get a bird’s eye view of how the processing power and network resources are being distributed and used up, and any changes can be made directly from this console.

Just like the Cloud, using Virtualization has many advantages, some of which include the following:

  • Reduced capital and operating expenses – because one server can become many servers
  • Almost eliminate any downtime – because if one Virtual Machine or even the main server fails, you have other multiple instances to turn to
  • Provision resources and assets quicker – this is because the primary server environment is replicated at multiple locations
  • Be able to respond to Security breaches quicker – By having multiple Virtual Machines, you can access them from anywhere and anytime when disaster strikes

Virtualization isn’t just restricted to servers, it can be applied to other aspects of your IT infrastructure as well, such as Data Virtualization, Desktop Virtualization, Network Virtualization, and even Operating System Virtualization.

We will be examining these more in future blogs, so stay tuned!

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