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What is Virtualization?

Taking the mystery out of virtualization solutions.

Virtualization is a proven software technology that is rapidly transforming the hosting landscape and fundamentally changing the way that businesses compute. VMware virtualization lets you move away from the traditional "one server, one application" model to running multiple virtual machines on a single physical server.

Today's applications and operating systems use only a fraction of the resources available on a physical server. This means that valuable computing power sits idle for long periods of time. Virtualization, via VMware or other technologies, puts those untapped resources to work for you and reduces your IT costs at the same time.

Definition of Virtualization 

Virtualization is defined as the abstraction of objects ("things"), creating a virtual (rather than actual) version of objects such as a server or storage device. For example, when you partition a hard drive into two partitions - C and D, say - you create virtual drives but the physical hard drive has not changed.

Similarly, Network attached storage (NAS) presents users with an abstract storage space - a single point of access to data - though in reality NAS contains many drives and tapes hidden from the end user.

In server virtualization, a software layer is inserted either directly on the physical server (host) hardware or on the host operating system. This software (also known as hypervisor or virtual machine monitor) allocates hardware resources (CPU, RAM, storage and networking) and allows a single server to run multiple operating system images at the same time. Each one of these operating systems is a `virtual server'.

Virtual machines are completely compatible with all standard x86 operating systems, applications and device drivers.

Virtualization allows higher utilization of servers, which usually run at a fraction of their capacity. By replacing physical servers with virtual ones, and consolidating many together, it is possible to reduce datacenter space, energy consumption, hardware costs and maintenance personnel. It is also easier to move virtual servers between hosts to form high availability, fault tolerant or other virtual clusters, thus improving business continuity, performance and responsiveness.

Virtual Servers

Virtual servers are an abstraction of physical servers. A virtual server appears and behaves just like a physical server with all its resources (CPU, RAM, storage and networking) and features (such as root/admin access, a complete operating system, application stack and reboots). But in reality, multiple virtual servers run side by side on the same piece of hardware - the physical (host) server.

Virtual servers have the features of dedicated servers, including allowing the user complete control over the server resources and applications and being isolated from other servers and users. But because of their shared environment, they can be offered at a lower price than a dedicated server. Virtual servers can also be moved from host to host quickly, or configured to form virtual clusters for high availability, fail-over, fault tolerance or advanced functions. All these features improve their stability and responsiveness, reduce down time and offer end users better value.

Virtualization Hosting

Virtualisation hosting uses server virtualization to host virtual private (or dedicated) servers (VPS or VDS). It also refers to leasing servers running virtualization software in order to offer virtual servers to end users. Virtualization hosting falls between shared hosting and dedicated hosting, as the features are identical to dedicated servers (albeit with fewer resources) but the hardware is shared between multiple users (though not as many as the 1,000 or more encountered in shared hosting). Prices are typically between those of shared and dedicated hosting.

End users enjoy all dedicated hosting features at a much lower price. The host benefits from the ability to instantly add resources and to run and lease any combination of Windowsr, Linux or Unix servers on one physical server, and from advanced features (such as high availability and virtual clusters) that are more readily available with virtual servers.