What Is Virtualization? What Are the Types of Virtualization

Recently I was working on a POC which triggered a very intriguing topic -Virtualization and how it is changing IT culture.

Virtualization is written on the blue sky. As the name suggests, virtualization involves producing a “virtual” environment. This environment is implemented on a server to execute the required programs without any complexity in interrupting other platforms and applications of the server. For instance, in a traditional architecture you can run a single application which runs on an operating system configured on a server. Through virtualization, a new layer is added to the top of the server which can host multiple OS having their own applications.

To understand virtualization, you must also know what a VM or virtual machine is. A VM is a heavily isolated container which encompasses an application and OS. All the VMs are independent. VMs are stored on a single device to run multiple applications and OS at once through a single host.

The software which is used to link the host machine and the virtual machine is commonly referred to as a hypervisor. It is the hypervisor which serves as an intermediary between the virtual environment and the hardware equipment of a server and is responsible to properly allocate resources like memory and number of cores.

Types of Virtualization

Virtualization can be applied to multiple components in the IT infrastructure of an organization. Following are the fundamental types of virtualization.

  • Server Virtualization

Server virtualization is also known as hardware virtualization. The idea behind such virtualization is to break down a server “logically” into multiple segments of hardware which effectively work as virtual servers. All of these smaller servers are powered to host their own virtual machines.

However, the complete set of servers would be considered as a single one whenever a process comes up with a request related to hardware. Such a virtualization technique is useful in boosting the processing capabilities of the organization without spending on a new server. Likewise, it can also improve the uptime and enhance the resource utilization of the hardware.

  • Storage Virtualization

In storage virtualization, all of the storage devices are lumped or consolidated together, so they are “visible” and function as a stand-alone device. This is done in order to achieve homogenization to get increased speed and capacity, load balancing, enhanced optimization, and decreased downtime—factors which often plague organizations when they work with several different storage devices.

You can observe the use of storage virtualization whenever you are attempting to create more than a single partition from out of your hard drive. When several storage devices are combined in a single device, then the virtualization is more commonly known as block virtualization.

  • Memory Virtualization

This type of virtualization collects and combines the physical memory from all servers and accumulates it into a virtualized pool. This is beneficial because it allows expanding the contiguous working memory.

Operating systems often make use of such techniques. For instance, Microsoft’s operating system facilitates some part of the storage to act as the RAM’s extension. This is an OS level memory virtualization where the OS offers the memory pool. For the application level, applications offer the memory pool.

  • Software Virtualization

In software virtualization, several virtual environments are generated which are then run on the host machine. Such virtualization allows the guest OS to function. For instance, if a host machine is natively running on Windows 10, then software virtualization can help to run Android 8.0 on the machine where it makes use of the exact hardware resources which are granted to the host machine.

Software virtualization is subdivided into OS virtualization, application virtualization, and service virtualization. In application virtualization, you can host many applications in the virtualized space. In service virtualization, you can host an application services and processes in the virtualized space.

  • Network Virtualization

Such a virtualization solution requires dividing several mini-networks from a single physical network. These mini-networks are configured to communicate with each other; it is possible to completely cut off any communication between them.

This virtualization is effective because it supports the limitation of file transfer in various networks. Moreover, it is a secureoption because instead of the whole network, only a single mini-network is breached when the company is hit by a cyberattack like man-in-the-middle attack.

Similarly, it enables a greater level of monitoring and facilitates networking professionals to identify the usage of data. As a result, a greater degree of reliability is attained as a problem in one network cannot necessarily disrupt another network.

  • Desktop Virtualization

This virtualization is routinely used by organizations to improve productivity. In desktop virtualization, a remote server stores users’ desktop environment, thereby authorizing them to work from anywhere in the world. This way, employees can work on an urgent-basis, whether they are on a vacation or when they are on a sick leave. Hence, organizations gain a huge advantage and are able to maximize their revenues.

  • Data Virtualization

When organizations use various data sources like MongoDB, SQL Server, and other DB products, then they find integration issues. To address, such issues they make use of data virtualization for aggregating data efficiently.

Data virtualization refers to an approach in which data is gathered from multiple data sources in order to design a single, virtual, and logical perspective or view. Such a view maybe used by a dashboard for an analytics tool or a software application. Data virtualization provides a layer of abstraction on storage data for location, storage structure, access language, and application programming interface.

  • Service Virtualization

When organizations supports parallel development lots of time service provider becomes bottleneck for consumers. Even existing service can become bottleneck for consumer due to availability,connectivity. Service Virtualization refers to the approach to emulate the behavior of the original component by creating similar response and request structure. This helps organization in faster and independent development and testing.

Service Virtualization is different from Mock service.Mock service is more of static request response implement vs full implementation in service virtualization. Also,Mock service are stateless and context anware whereas service virtualization can be stateful and state aware.

Final Thoughts

With the emergence and advancements of cloud computing, virtualization has changed the game for many organizations. Companies use it as one of the major sections of their disaster recovery and backup strategy. Whenever, a disaster like a cyberattack, power outages, or any similar issues arises, virtualization simplifies and eases up and ensures to quicken the recovery period. Similarly, it is beneficial to effectively allocate budget for hardware, and therefore saves from unnecessaryinvestments in servers. This effect is particularly positively felt in SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

Today, by limiting the wastage of computing equipment and minimizing costs, virtualization has truly become a key IT component of any successful organization.


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