October 29, 2013

What is Virtualization?


Hostway Team

Render of a SAN Storage Area NetworkAs technology evolves, businesses are gaining additional tools for making their operations more efficient, productive and cost-effective. One such evolution under way across industries such as healthcare and insurance is the rise of virtualization, the process by which computing components like hardware, desktops, servers, operating systems, network resources and storage units operate virtually as opposed to physically. With a cloud instance, businesses are able to distribute granular computing and other resources, allowing them to build efficient solutions, and often saving money in the process.

Virtualization prioritizes efficiency, particularly when it comes to storage and networking. For example, a company might have 10 applications on 10 different physical servers, each running at 10 percent of CPU utilization. Virtualization allows you to pool those resources so you’re able to run those 10 applications on one virtual server, which is then running at full capacity, optimizing efficiency while reducing costs.

Some of the key properties of virtual machines include:

  • Partitioning: Virtualization allows users to run multiple operating systems on systems with one physical machine, allowing a division of system resources between virtual machines.
  • Isolation: Users will notice a huge security increase with virtualization, as there is fault and security isolation at the hardware level.
  • Encapsulation: The moving and copying of virtual machines is as easy as the moving and copying of regular files.
  • Hardware independence: Virtualization allows for the provisioning or migration of any virtual machine to any similar or different physical server.

Core Benefits

In addition, virtual hosting solutions are scalable. If a company needs more resources, and a virtual server it’s using is at capacity, they can spin up a new instance at a moment’s notice. Because of the ease with which those servers can be optimized, companies don’t have to spend money controlling more servers than they need at any given time. For example, one could imagine that cloud-based tax preparation solutions need more resources during the week leading up to April 15 than at most other times of the year. Virtualization – coupled with an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution – allows such a company to spin up instances easily, only paying for what they need, when they need it, and spin back down after the rush subsides.

Other benefits of virtualization include:

  • Businesses are able to reduce the complexity necessary to simplify operations and maintenance.
  • The money saved from virtualization can be reinvested in other avenues of the company.
  • Virtualization provides businesses with flexible IT solutions to meet and anticipate the needs of the organization in real time.

Virtualization seems to be everywhere, and everyone wants to take advantage of the benefits it offers. But many are confused about what it means and where to start. Virtualization can be run on a single server as a virtual host, or spanned across multiple servers in a cloud to offer redundancy and high availability. You can make the choice to invest in hardware yourself and deploy either type in-house, or you can work with a hosting provider who will set the equipment up for you, allowing you to spread the cost out over a longer term.

Though they rely on their computers to be the backbone of their businesses, most companies are simply not in the business of computing – Nor should they be according to many experts. Their strong suits are not related to maximizing the efficiency of their computing infrastructure while maintaining it and keeping it secure.

LL Bean is in the business of selling clothing, and a lot of that business is conducted online. Rather than directing resources toward something that is outside the scope of LL Bean’s expertise, the company stands to benefit from using virtual servers and other items through the cloud.  That allows the company to focus on its bread and butter while resting assured that its computing infrastructure is in great hands.

With Gartner projecting that the cloud computing market will reach $150 billion this year, it’s safe to say businesses continue to realize the benefits stemming from virtualization.  And it’s likely that the market will continue to grow into the foreseeable future.


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