In a previous blog post, we talked about the security advantages of cloud computing. But did you know that virtualization is the foundation of cloud computing? It’s so central to our SaaS appointment scheduler, EZnet Scheduler®, that we’ve decided to put together this easy-to-understand tutorial on 4 key benefits of virtualization.
What is Virtualization?
Virtualization uses software to create an abstraction layer over physical hardware. In doing so, it creates a virtual computer system, known as virtual machines (VMs). This allows organizations to run multiple virtual computers, operating systems, and applications on a single physical server — essentially partitioning it into multiple virtual servers. This technology is also referred to as virtual server, virtual server instance (VSI) and virtual private server (VPS), but in this blog post, we will simply refer to them as virtual machines (VMs).
In the simplest possible terms, a virtual machine (VM) is a virtual representation of a physical computer. Virtualization enables an organization to create multiple virtual machines on a single physical machine, each with their own operating system (OS) and applications.
5 types of Virtualization
- Desktop Virtualization – the host server can run virtual machines using a hypervisor (a software program.
- Application Virtualization – the process of installing an application on a central server (single computer system) that can virtually be operated on multiple systems.
- Server Virtualization – the process of partitioning the resources of a single server. into multiple virtual servers.
- Network Virtualization – helps manage and monitor the entire computer network as a single administrative entity.
- Storage Virtualization – the process of pooling physical storage of multiple network storage devices so it looks like a single storage device.
But a virtual machine can’t interact directly with a physical computer. Instead, it utilizes a lightweight software layer called a “hypervisor” to coordinate with the physical hardware upon which it runs. Hypervisors are essential to virtualization.
A hypervisor helps an organization simulate hardware functionality and create multiple virtual computer operating systems capable of running alongside one another and sharing the same physical computing resources. The hypervisor assigns to each VM its own portion of the underlying computing power, memory, and storage.
As a result, if one of them crashes, the physical hardware and other virtual machines are not affected.
Two Primary Types of Hypervisors
Type 1 Hypervisors
Type 1 hypervisors run directly on the physical hardware (usually a server), taking the place of the OS. Typically, a separate software product is used to create and manipulate VMs on the hypervisor. Some management tools, like VMware’s vSphere, enable you to select a guest OS to install in the VM.
You can use one VM as a template for others by duplicating it to create new ones. Depending on your needs, you might create multiple VM templates for different purposes, such as software testing, production databases, and development environments.
Type 2 Hypervisors
Type 2 hypervisors run as an application within a host OS and usually target single-user desktop or notebook platforms. With a Type 2 hypervisor, you manually create a VM and then install a guest OS in it. You can use the hypervisor to allocate physical resources to your VM, manually setting the number of processor cores and memory it can use. Depending on the hypervisor’s capabilities, you can also set options like 3D acceleration for graphics.
4 Key Benefits of Virtualization
Virtualization offers a number of benefits for all businesses, but the most important are reducing capital and operating costs associated with IT, reducing or eliminating downtime, greater continuity and faster disaster recovery, increasing IT efficiency, productivity, agility and responsiveness, and controlling independence and DevOps.
1. Reduce capital and operating costs associated with IT.
When you partition one physical server into several virtual machines, you can deploy, operate and manage multiple operating system instances at once on that single physical server. Fewer physical servers mean less money spent on those servers.
2. Reduce or eliminate downtime and enable greater continuity and faster disaster recovery.
When a disaster affects a physical server, someone is responsible for replacing or fixing it—this could take hours or even days. With a virtualized environment, it’s easy to provision and deploy, allowing you to replicate or clone the virtual machine that’s been affected. The recovery process would take mere minutes—as opposed to the hours it would t
3. Increase IT efficiency, productivity, agility, and responsiveness.
With fewer servers, your IT team will be able to spend less time maintaining the physical hardware and IT infrastructure.
4. Control independence and DevOps.
DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development and IT operations. It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality. DevOps is complementary with Agile software development; several DevOps aspects came from the Agile methodology.
Since the virtualized environment is segmented into virtual machines, your developers can quickly spin up a virtual machine without impacting the production environment. This is ideal for Dev/Test (development testing), as the developer can quickly clone the virtual machine and run a test on the environment.
For example, if a new software patch has been released, someone can clone the virtual machine and apply the latest software update, test the environment, and then pull it into their production application. This increases the speed and agility of an application. At EZnet Services and EZnet Scheduler, this is howwe work.