What is Virtualization?

In this article we are going to discuss virtualization. We’ll address what virtualization is and the different types of virtualization. We’ll also see where virtualization can be used, as well as where it is going.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization is creating something that replicates what an original can do, but without creating another physical copy of the original.

Many consider virtualized servers to be cloud based, but virtualization can also be done in-house. Many cloud based companies offer a virtualization service, a service that you can provide for yourself if you choose. Creating your own in-house virtualized servers will have high up-front costs but may save money in the long run. One of the benfits of a cloud servce is that it offers virtualization at a lower start-up cost than virtualization within your own company.

Most companies began to virtualize after the economic crash of 2008, when businesses were looking for ways to economize on their hardware, software, and IT maintenance expenses. Today, virtualization has extended to include the use of smartphones and iPads, with more and more businesses wanting to access information and work while on the go. These virtual desktops are one example of the types of virtualization.

Different Types of Virtualization

Virtualization can exist in all areas of an IT department. Here are the main segments of virtualization.

  • Virtualization of Hardware – Having one server imitate multiple servers by running several operating systems at once is hardware virtualization. This form of virtualization minimizes the amount of hardware needed to operate an organization. There is a presumption of savings with less hardware to purchase and maintain.
  • Virtualization of Software – Software virtualization allows software from a variety of platforms accessible to everyone. This allows for multiple users to access various programs, even though they may not have been intended for the OS they are using.
  • Virtualization of a Desktop – With desktop virtualization, each user’s operating system, preferences, files and applications are saved somewhere other than a local machine, like a desktop. With more companies moving to a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, desktop virtualization is becoming increasingly popular. Today, more iPads and smartphones are being used as virtual desktops.
  • Virtualization of Storage – Creating one location where all data is stored is storage virtualization. This minimizes the unwanted redundancy of using storage space on multiple machines to store the same data. Those who need to access the data can do so from the network, instead of their own hard-drive.

Where virtualization is used and its future

Unlike a few short years ago, virtualization is now considered mainstream technology. According to International Data Center (IDC), a major IT research firm, virtualization will reach new levels of acceptance in 2013. From large datacenters to smaller and smaller businesses, virtualization is proving itself as a safe secure way to save money while expanding capabilities.

Recent IDC research of Enterprise IT professionals indicates a 69% of enterprise workloads will be virtualized this year. They say it will be the biggest technology trend in the coming months.

Adding fuel to the virtualization fire is the still meteoric growth of mobile devices, and the younger workforce who use them daily. Employers are finding that creating virtual desktops for these users can help keep their hardware costs down, while creating other efficiencies like productivity. In addition virtual apps available to all users will also help productivity. This will especially be true when those apps are specific for the work done in that companies line of business.

Whether virtualization is done in-house or through a cloud service, it is clear virtualization’s place in the IT world is solidified. The increasing need for storage and widespread use of mobile devices has assured us of that.

About the author: Matt Smith is a Dell employee who writes to help raise awareness on the topic of Virtualization and other network management subjects.


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