What Is Virtualization? Learn the Basics of This Technology

In the past, it was hard to fully utilize physical computer hardware if you wanted to be efficient. The more independent tasks a computer had to handle the worse it got (if it could handle them at all). In essence, a computer only had one “brain” to think about important processes.

Virtualization changes this dynamic and allows users to use hardware much more efficiently. What is virtualization? It’s that question that’s lead us to create this helpful guide on the basics of virtualization and how it may help you!

The Basics of Virtualization

Key to understanding virtualization is recognizing the basics of how an operating system (OS) works. To simplify a number of complex ideas, an OS is essentially your computer’s “brain.” On the software side, your OS is why your computer can do anything at all.

The issue is that, like with a real brain, it is hard for a single OS to focus on many tasks at once (although good hardware plays an important role in that too). Moreover, almost all computers have a single OS to work from.

This is where the concept of a hypervisor, and by extension virtualization, can help. A hypervisor is a type of software key to virtualization. It allows for the division and allocation of hardware resources in a way otherwise impossible.

Partitioning resources is almost like giving a computer multiple brains. These segments of the hardware can focus on their own tasks while also working together. This lets a user more efficiently push their hardware without experiencing major slowdown.

How Can Virtualization Help Your Organization?

The most common use for virtualization like this is to consolidate servers. Server virtualization allows for multiple servers to be run from the same hardware, reducing electricity costs, heating issues, and more.

Hardware resources can also be shifted between virtual servers as needed. If a server temporarily needs more resources, you can partition off more resources for a time to help it. Hardware resources are almost never at 100% use, so there is almost always room to adjust for unusual server load.

If a company is using multiple servers, virtualizing can allow entire physical servers to be emptied and used for other purposes. By extension, this may increase the company’s capabilities by a great deal without significant change in cost.

In fact, virtualization often saves companies money overall. Less hardware, electricity, and heat alongside greater efficiency in terms of how servers function means costs are reduced in a variety of ways.

Of all these benefits, the ability to run multiple servers on less hardware is what most would consider its greatest strength. Virtualization can offer companies that can’t afford a great deal of hardware the ability to save big and still run the servers they need.

Less hardware also means less of a chance of equipment failure. Additionally, it also means that when equipment does fail, less needs to be replaced to get an operation running again.

Want the Hard Part Done for You?

If you’re interested in what virtualization technology can offer but aren’t tech-savvy enough to update your hardware yourself, there are professional services that can help you. Partitioning and otherwise migrating large amounts of important data can be tricky. It’s also something one must be careful with, as error can cause major issues like data loss or the misallocation of hardware resources.

The good news is that there are companies that can help a company with the virtualization process. This can be great news for smaller companies who don’t have their own IT department. It also helps companies that do but still lack the expertise to form multiple virtual servers on the same hardware.

Where your company might only go through this process once or twice, you can hire a company that’s done it dozens of times. They know what they’re doing and where the common pitfalls are. They’re also almost certainly going to do it faster than your company could on its own too.

If you’d like to find more information on how one such company, Skyward Technical Services, can help, click the provided link. (They also offer managed IT services, Cloud services, and more!)

Does Virtualization Have Downsides?

Like any innovation, virtualization isn’t the best solution in all scenarios. For example, storage virtualization is only viable if the hardware used still has the capacity for all the data you want to store. Virtualization helps with efficiency but the hardware used still has physical limits.

In a similar vein, virtualization can be hard if you are using programs that must utilize specialized hardware which may not be suited to virtualization. Some programs also may act strange when running in a virtual environment.

Virtualization can require some adjusting to make all servers run as they should. They should be tested to make sure they’re working as intended and then can be relied upon. However, that’s true of a traditional server too.

All that said, virtualization can be a powerful tool in a company’s arsenal. A company also doesn’t have to (and often shouldn’t) virtualize everything they’re doing. That does not mean virtualization can’t improve efficiency and reduce costs if applied in areas where it can help.

More Servers, Less Hardware

While the software has other uses, virtualization’s main benefit for most companies and individuals is the ability to run multiple servers on the same hardware. Done right, it can be a great tool for increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

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