One of the recent trends in IT is virtualization and it has caught on fast. There is hardly any person in computing that has not heard about it. Some are more familiar about its intricacies but everyone doesn’t have to be an expert in this seemingly esoteric field to use it. Here is an introduction to virtualization; I hope this will enlighten those who’ve heard about it and would like to know more.
Numerous definitions of virtualization exist but lets just say it is the abstraction of physical resources. For example, you can have only one physical computer; yet run a couple of operating systems simultaneously, with each running in its owned contained environment and having unique features.
Various types of virtualization exist including hardware, memory, storage, software, mobile, data and desktop virtualization. The most popular around is Operating system-level virtualization which involves the hosting of multiple virtualized environments within a single OS instance. Storage virtualization is also common, where many separate physical storage devices are used as if they were one device. Storage virtualization is still relatively less popular but is quickly catching up.
Virtualization enables companies to use existing infrastructure optimally, decrease the amount of machines needed, cut power consumption and ease administration tasks. On the downside, virtualization requires powerful computers having fast CPUs and enough RAM. It also leads to reduced performance; if the host should crash, all virtual operating systems go down too.
The good news is that virtualization is not for the pros alone, it ain’t for all them geeks, its for all of us now. Recent developments in software development make running virtualized software easier and useful.
Enough said, all this means that you can run just about any OS inside any OS. Ubuntu Linux on Windows? Yes! Windows 7 inside XP? Great! You can access the internet, use USB peripherals and share files between host and virtual OS. Furthermore, you can setup as many different operating systems as you want, save snapshots and delete them at your desire.
If you’ve been dying to try out an operating system without the attendant stress of partitioning disks or rebooting to change operating systems. Then, this is the way to go. Best of all, you can try it – for free of course – thanks to software like Oracle’s Virtualbox. It is a free download on any platform and does the job well. There is also Vmware which is not free.