Virtualization is a computing term that refers to the creation of a virtual solution to a problem rather than a ‘real’ or physical solution. For all intents and purposes, the virtual idea could have the same look, but not feel, of the physical alternative. A touch screen key pad as compared to a physical QWERTY keyboard is a great example of this.
Now, you may well be wondering how and why using virtualization can help manage a business’ IT systems. Well, there are in fact many reasons. For example, according to research in 2009, virtualization can cut expenses by as much as 80 percent. Costs are reduced by increasing energy efficiency and requiring less hardware with server consolidation. There are several methods of virtualization including hardware virtualization, software virtualization, memory virtualization, storage virtualization or online backup, data virtualization, and network virtualization.
In terms of hardware virtualization, the traditional model of IT management often sees independent machines that are connected to an operating system, but instead of being on a physical machine, also known as a host machine; the system functions through a virtual machine, also known as a guest machine. There are three different types of hardware virtualization:
Full virtualization: all of the hardware including the software runs on a guest machine.
Partial virtualization: some of the target environment is simulated, but in order for the virtual environment to run correctly, there is a host machine involved.
Paravirtualization: guest machines are executed in their own isolated domains in a separate system from the host machine. Guest programs need to be specifically modified to run in this environment.
Independent machines may or may not be interconnected. If they are not, then it is likely the business will be paying out for several licenses to use particular software, which are in themselves generally very expensive.
In terms of software virtualization, there are different systems to use including operating system-level virtualization, hosting multiple virtualized environments with a single operating system instance; application virtualization, where the environment is separated from the underlying operating system; and service virtualization, where service applications are used virtually instead of directly through the operating system.
In some cases it is well known for conflict to occur when using multiple programs. Moreover many businesses often underuse resources, which only adds to the cost.
In short, the cost-benefit relationship between traditional IT and virtual and cloud based solutions is a lot higher.
When asked about this, Gartner, the IT analysts firm, told slideshare.net: “Enterprises that do not use virtualization technologies will spend 25% more annually for hardware, software, labor and space for Intel servers.”
Uptake of virtualization is expected to double in the next 2 years by small and medium-sized businesses. Expect to see a lot more businesses with virtual systems.
Will your company be one of them? Consider contacting an outsourced IT service or IT consultant for any questions.