What Is Virtualization?

Virtualization is a game-changing technology that unleashes the potential of IT services by liberating them from the confines of hardware. It empowers you to maximize the total capacity of a physical machine, unlocking its capabilities to serve multiple users or environments. Get ready to redefine what’s possible!

In a more practical context, consider a scenario where you have three physical servers, each serving a dedicated purpose. One is designated as a mail server, another as a web server & the last handles internal legacy applications. These servers operate at a mere 30% capacity, significantly below their potential.

However, retaining the legacy apps with the hosting server becomes imperative due to the criticality of the legacy apps for your internal operations.

Traditionally, running individual tasks on servers was more straightforward & more dependable. Each server had its own operating system & was dedicated to a single task. The challenge was to enable a server to have multiple functionalities.

However, virtualization has made it possible to divide a mail server into two distinct entities capable of handling independent tasks, facilitating the migration of legacy applications.

This approach optimizes hardware utilization without any additional investment. It’s the same hardware; you’re just utilizing it more efficiently.

Considering security, it is advisable to divide the first server once more to accommodate another task, raising its utilization from 30% to 60% & eventually 90%.

By doing so, the vacant servers can be repurposed for other jobs or decommissioned, thereby reducing cooling & maintenance expenses.

A Brief History Of Virtualization

Virtualization technology had its roots in the 1960s, but it gained widespread adoption in the early 2000s. The development of technologies such as hypervisors decades ago facilitated simultaneous access to batch-processing computers for multiple users.

Batch processing was a widely adopted computing style in the business sector, efficiently executing repetitive tasks, such as payroll, thousands of times in rapid succession.

However, in the following decades, alternative approaches to addressing the challenge of supporting multiple users on a single machine gained traction, whereas virtualization did not.

Among these alternatives was time-sharing, which involved isolating users within operating systems—ultimately paving the way for developing other operating systems like UNIX & eventually leading to the emergence of Linux®. Throughout this time, virtualization remained a relatively niche technology with limited adoption.

Looking ahead to the 1990s, it was common for enterprises to rely on physical servers & single-vendor IT stacks. Unfortunately, this setup posed a challenge as legacy applications could not run on hardware from different vendors.

As companies began upgrading their IT environments with more cost-effective commodity servers, operating systems & applications from various vendors, they faced the problem of needing more utilized physical hardware. Each server could only handle one task specific to a particular vendor.

This is the point at which virtualization gained significant traction. It emerged as the logical remedy for two challenges: enabling companies to partition their servers & run legacy applications on various operating system types & versions.

Consequently, servers began to be utilized more efficiently, resulting in reduced costs associated with procurement, setup, cooling & upkeep.

The widespread applicability of virtualization has significantly reduced vendor lock-in & served as the cornerstone of cloud computing. Its prevalence in enterprises today often necessitates specialized virtualization management software to effectively track & manage everything.

How Does Virtualization Work?

Hypervisors, a type of software, serve to separate physical resources from virtual environments, ensuring efficient allocation of resources. They can be deployed as a layer on top of an operating system (e.g., on a laptop) or directly on the hardware (e.g., on a server), making them a common choice for enterprise virtualization.

By dividing physical resources, hypervisors enable virtual environments to effectively utilize these resources.

Resources are segregated from the physical environment into multiple virtual environments. Users interact with & execute computations within these virtual environments, commonly called guest or virtual machines.

The virtual machine operates as a singular data file. Like any digital file, it can be transferred between computers, opened in either one & is expected to function consistently.

When the virtual environment is operational & a user or program issues an instruction that necessitates additional resources from the physical environment, the hypervisor forwards the request to the biological system.

It caches the modifications at near-native speed, especially if the request is sent through an open-source hypervisor based on KVM, the Kernel-based Virtual Machine.

Illustration of Virtualization Concept

Types Of Virtualization

  • Data Virtualization

Data that is dispersed can be consolidated into a unified source through data virtualization. This approach enables companies to view data as a dynamic supply, facilitating processing capabilities that integrate data from multiple sources, accommodate new data sources effortlessly & transform data based on user requirements.

Data virtualization tools act as intermediaries between diverse data sources, allowing them to be treated as cohesive entities. This ensures the timely delivery of the required data, in the desired format, to any application or user.

  • Desktop Virtualization

Often mistaken with operating system virtualization, which enables the deployment of multiple operating systems on a single machine, desktop virtualization empowers a central administrator or automated administration tool to efficiently deploy simulated desktop environments across numerous physical devices.

Unlike traditional desktop environments that require individual installation, configuration & updates on each machine, desktop virtualization offers the ability to perform mass configurations, updates & security checks on all virtual desktops.

  • Server Virtualization

Servers are purpose-built computers that excel at processing specialized tasks, allowing other computers, such as laptops & desktops, to handle various functions.

Virtualizing a server can perform an expanded set of these specific functions. This involves partitioning the server’s components to enable the simultaneous execution of multiple tasks.

  • Operating System Virtualization

Operating system virtualization occurs at the kernel level, serving as the operating systems’ central task manager. It provides a valuable solution for running Linux & Windows environments simultaneously.

Enterprises can leverage the deployment of virtual operating systems to computers, resulting in several benefits:

  • Significantly reduces hardware costs as high out-of-the-box capabilities are no longer necessary.
  • Enhances security through comprehensive monitoring & isolation of all virtual instances.
  • Streamlines IT services, such as software updates, leading to more efficient time management.
  • Network Functions Virtualization

Network function virtualization (NFV) segregates crucial functions of a network, such as directory services, file sharing & IP configuration, allowing them to be distributed across different environments. By decoupling software functions from their physical counterparts, specific components can be bundled together to form a new network & allocated to a domain.

The virtualization of networks reduces the reliance on physical elements like switches, routers, servers, cables & hubs, enabling the creation of multiple independent networks. This approach has gained significant traction in the telecommunications industry.

Why Migrate Your Virtual Infrastructure To Sea Change Systems?

Because a decision like this isn’t just about infrastructure. It’s about what your infrastructure can (or can’t) do to support the technologies that depend on it. Contractually bound to an increasingly expensive vendor limits your ability to invest in modern technologies like clouds, containers & automation systems.

But our open-source virtualization technologies are separate from increasingly expensive enterprise-license agreements & we at Sea Change Systems give everyone full access to the same source code trusted by more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies.

So there are no obstacles preventing you from adopting Agile methodologies, implementing a hybrid cloud infrastructure, or exploring automation technologies.

To discover more about Virtualization, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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