Virtualization is a term that refers to creating a virtual copy of something as opposed to a physical one. Examples of things that can be virtualized include operating systems, servers, network tools, and even an entire computer. All of those can be created virtually using the computers a business already owns.
Where Can Virtualization be Used?
Virtual machines have a nearly limitless number of applications. Some of the main one’s include:
Desktop – similar to hardware, creating another virtual desktops of different operating systems that can all run simultaneously
Software – virtualize operating systems and applications
Storage – create virtual file systems, and virtual hard drives
Data – virtualize data into an separate layer that is independent of the structures and storage systems that make it up
Network – create virtual networks, connect networks together into one virtual network, VPNs
As one can see, virtualization covers a very broad range of uses. Let’s look at some of the benefits of using it.
Cost Saving: Virtualization allows one to simulate physical devices and/or services using only one actual computer. This allows a single computer to run multiple operating systems simultaneously, become a server, become a router, and many other roles. It bypasses the need to have to purchase a physical device, and allows much more value to be derived from existing devices.
Example – Session Virtualization: Session virtualization allows multiple desktop environments to be run off of a single powerful computer. This means that one computer can be hooked up to five monitors and five pairs of mice and keyboards and then five users could each have their own desktop environment independent of each other. This eliminates the need to buy as many computers while still giving every user the experience of having their own computer.
Increased Productivity: Virtualization increases productivity in many ways. Everything from a hard drive to a computing environment can be virtualized. This allows for a lot of flexibility, because using virtualization almost everything on a technical level is possible without having to buy expensive new hardware. The following is just two examples of where virtualization increases productivity.
Example – Desktop Virtualization: Desktop virtualization separates the desktop environment from the physical machine it is installed on. This allows something called a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to be setup. A VDI allows a user to interact with the host computer using another desktop or a mobile device, rather than using the keyboard and mouse attached to the host machine. For a user, this means that they can access their full desktop experience from anywhere. Therefore, an employee can access everything at work from anywhere in the world. Users can have access to the processing power and storage capacity of their work computer from their tablet, smartphone, or any other computer.
Example – Software Virtualization: Assume a business prefers to use Macintosh computer’s over Windows based ones, however, there is one application that they need that is not available on Mac, instead of having to either use a Windows PC (which is not their preference), or have to purchase additional Windows PC’s for the purpose of running only one application, they can virtualize a Windows desktop environment, and as such run Windows applications side by side with Macintosh one’s, all on their Mac computer.
Performance: Any intensive tasks such as applications reliant on a fast video card or fast CPU will not run well in a virtual environment, it is better to run them natively. Also, the speed of virtualized desktops, networks, and servers, will be limited by network speed and capacity.
Licensing: Running operating systems and applications in a virtual environment sometimes adds complexity to licensing requirements. Most software can be run without any licensing concern, but some require additional plans and pricing.
Virtualization can be as simple as creating a VPN, or as complex as creating entire server environments. It plays a broad role in any computing environment and can certainly be useful in any business reliant on computers and networking. Packetworks is able to provide the fast, stable connections necessary for any virtual environment.
For further reading check out some of these popular virtual machine clients
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