The Meaning and Workings of Virtualisation
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The Meaning and Workings of Virtualisation

When IBM launched the CP-40 in 1967, it changed the whole dynamics of computing. Though the concept of virtualisation was ringing the bells from a year before, 1967 was the time which is credited for being the cradle of virtualisation. The CP-40 was based on complete virtualisation and could run 14 system simultaneously. Fast forward to the early 2000s, VMware took virtualisation on a different level, allowing it’s user to work on a different operating system through a virtual machine. The business of today cannot ignore the power of virtualisation if they have to stay relevant.

What is Virtualisation?

Virtualisation refers to creating a virtual version of a resource. It simulates a virtual environment of a computing resource such as a server, operating system, desktop and network. Often, many virtual resources can be created from a single physical resource. It allows better efficiency and utilization of resources giving greater revenue for business with economies of scale. A virtual computer or VM works in an isolated environment with its own dedicated resources such as RAM, storage and OS. The bridge between the physical host and the VMs are controlled through a software called the hypervisor. Through hypervisor, a physical resource is partitioned into many VMs.

Components of Virtualisation:

There are basically three components of a virtualised environment:

  1. Host machine– This machine forms the basis of virtualisation. The physical hardware that allows virtual machines to exist by allowing hypervisors to be installed on them. The primary purpose of the host machine is to provide the basic physical infrastructure to the VMs.
  2. The guest machines– The virtual machine which is created in simulation on top of the host machine is known as the guest machine. One single host machine can run many VMs. Each VMs run separately without any interference from other VMs.
  3. Hypervisor– Rightly called as the virtual machine manager, hypervisor creates VMs on the host machine possible. They are further categorized into two categories depending on their place of installation. Bare metal hypervisors or Type-1 hypervisors are installed directly onto the physical hardware, while hosted hypervisors (Type-2) are installed on the operating system which runs on the physical hardware. Microsoft’s Hyper- V is an example of Type-1, while the VMWare Workstation works on the principle of Type-2 hypervisors.

Types of virtualisation:

The six most common types of virtualisation which are changing the dynamics of computing are as follows:

  1. Network Virtualisation– Virtualisation on a network divides the bandwidth of the physical network into many channels, which can then run separately. This allows the network to be divided into manageable parts, just like a hard disk is partitioned for the ease of managing files.
  2. Server Virtualisation– Using a physical server to host many virtual servers, with each virtual server working for the user as a dedicated server. The whole concept of the VPS Server is based on server virtualisation. Each user has all the advantages of a dedicated server without having to pay for the entire server. The cost is shared between the users of all the clients in the virtualised environment.
  3. Data Virtualisation– It allows distributed data to be treated as a single source. It is helpful for a business who needs to analyze data from multiple sources.
  4. Desktop Virtualisation- This allows the desktop to be accessed remotely.
  5. Application Virtualisation– Running an application away from the OS running on the hardware allows it to run on other systems.
  6. Storage Virtualisation– Creating virtual storage by combining storages at different places gives it the appearance of single storage.

Benefits of Virtualisation:

  1. Data Recovery– Snapshots allow easy data recovery in times of a disaster.
  2. Costs– A company has to pay less due to virtualisation since the need to hire the complete data centre is eliminated.
  3. Testing– Virtualisation allows testing without ruining the complete hardware if at all any mistakes do occur.
  4. Productivity– Since there are few physical resources in a virtualised environment, it is easily manageable. This is good for business as the staff can spend their time more efficiently.

Conclusion

Virtualisation is here to stay. It has reduced data centre footprint by consolidating the servers. Therefore, it is used by web hosting providers that offer Cloud Server Hosting and VPS Server Hosting. VPS can be considered as a mix of Shared and Dedicated Hosting. It makes it available for its client all the features of a dedicated server without having to pay too much, as the cost is shared between all the users sharing the physical server.

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