Understanding Virtualization


Virtualization entails the enabling of multiple virtual environments usually in the form of Virtual Machines, VMs, from a single, physical system or server. At the core of the realization of virtualization is hypervisor — a software that separates resources of a computer like CPU, storage, from the virtual environment — the things that are needed by those resources.

Virtualization employs the concept of abstraction — the separation of the underlying details of the core concepts of infrastructure, says the hardware of the system, leaving a representation of the original, in this case, a virtual machine which can then host an operating system.

Why Virtualization?

  • Cost-effectiveness to the organization – Organizations don’t have to bother about spending so much money on purchasing multiple physical machines – servers, all the firm has to do is to utilize the single machine’s resources through virtualization, to create multiple servers or VMs.
  • Reduction in energy consumption – with a single physical machine powering multiple VMs through virtualization, no need spending many resources on infrastructure like power, space – think co-location and cooling equipment.
  • Implementation of this technology brings about time-saving – you don’t have to spend so much time spinning up a Virtual Machine or deploying a virtual machine, compared to when you decide to deploy on a physical server.
  • It results in a reduction in overhead cost and expenditure in organizations. This is so because organizations can take advantage of utilizing the computing resources which often time isn’t used to the fullest.
  • Most importantly, with virtualization, organizations (and developers) can run different operating systems and apps on a machine.

How Virtualization Works — It is hinged on a hypervisor

It is a component of cloud computing — it separates the operating system from the underlying hardware. It provides a layer of instance upon which you can install hardware.

How is this possible? Steps in hypervisor!

A hypervisor is a software, sometimes referred to as virtual machine monitor, running on top of a machine — computer or server — operating system, emulating the machine’s hardware resources like memory, CPU, network, so you can install guest operating systems on the machine — often time on a Virtual Machine.

Hypervisor makes the process of hosting multiple virtual machines on a single computer, a seamless one, by virtually allocating resources. With hypervisor, a system’s resource is utilized to utmost capacity by the virtual machines. How? By taking the physical resources and dividing them, so that the virtual environment can use them.

Hypervisors interesting are of two types —

  1. Type 1 Hypervisor  — “The bare metal or Native hypervisor” For this type of hypervisor, there is no Operating System housing it. You just have a bare computer, often time a server, upon which you install the hypervisor and then install instances of the Operating System on the hypervisor. A bare-metal hypervisor has an interface like the command line and gives you a unique IP address.
    For type 1 hypervisor, you make installation of the instances using a management console by connecting to the unique IP address.
  2. Type 2 Hypervisor — “The Hosted Hypervisor” In this type of hypervisor, there is a host Operating System wherein you install a hypervisor and then host instances of the virtual environment like different Operating Systems on the hypervisor.

A look at some types of Virtualization

  • Server Virtualization – It is the breaking down or splitting into smaller units of a physical server through the aid of virtualization. This leads to the creation of multiple virtual machines, as the virtual server now functions as a physical machine with its own operating system. Instead of having multiple servers, with resources that may not fully be utilized, with server virtualization, the utilization of the physical server resources can be fully optimized.
  • Data Virtualization – It entails the real-time delivery of information often time to business users from the gathering of data from different systems, leading to the development of a single, logical and virtual view of information. The goal of this is the provision of a single access point for data while abstracting the data source from various systems.
  • Desktop Virtualization – It is a virtualization technology that is used to abstract a computer’s desktop environment from the physical system – the virtual desktop is stored on a remote server and not the physical system where it is being virtualized.
  • Network Virtualization – It entails the merging and provisioning of available resources of networks into a single virtual network, which is separated or isolated from each other. It also involves the splitting of a network into smaller units or the creation of software networks between virtual machines. The goals of network virtualization are cost saving, optimization of network speed, reliability, flexibility, scalability, and security.

Pros of Virtualization

  • Reduced complexity
  • Simplified IT management
  • More robust security
  • Lower costs
  • Effective usage of the system’s resources


The premise upon which virtualization is based is on the effective utilization of today’s computing resources. Organizations can take advantage of these technologies to save cost, deliver effective services, and make full use of the computing power of their systems.

These technologies eliminate the burden on organizations to use multiple systems in delivering different types of services to their clients or end-users. Simply create different virtual machines on one physical system by employing the concept of abstraction which is made possible through virtualization.

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