What is Virtualization?

Server Virtualization

Virtualization is the process of taking your current server, and partitioning (or breaking it up) into several smaller servers to help maximize your server resources. Server virtualization can solve numerous technical challenges that face your business today. It can provide better security resilience within an environment in regards to common security issues such as with data and access, cost reduction in regards to hardware needs, and mobility with additional implementation of cloud technologies and applications.

Virtualization can take many shapes and a lot of terms are interchangeable, but at the core it involves a "guest" operating within a "host". To explain better, let's take a look a look at how computers work. A PC is a complicated electronic device that has many pieces of hardware critical for it to function.

At minimum, a computer has 5 key parts which are:

  • CPU (Central Processing Unit)
  • RAM (Random Access Memory)
  • HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive)
  • Motherboard
  • Input/Output devices (mouse, keyboard, and monitor)
Other components that are in most newer machines include:
  • NIC (Network Interface Card)
  • GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
  • USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports
  • Blu-Ray, DVD, or CD-ROM Disc Drives

Through Virtualization, we can share all of the above components between multiple users. In other words, more than one person can be using the same machine, at the same time. But each person will have their own profile, with only the documents and programs assigned to them self. As you can imagine, the cost savings can be substantial.

TechStarters can utilize software such as VMWare or Hyper-V, and can create a "guest" image of a computer or platform can be loaded within the "Host Machine", using a portion of the available hardware resources to run the "guest" image/machine. For example a Microsoft Windows host can have a Macintosh or Linux "guest" and vice versa, saving space and lowering costs maximizing the use of available resources.

What are the benefits of Virtualization?

  • Resiliency - Simply put, a virtual guest image can be made readily available for most devices, with minimum hardware requirements of the host computer. If you happen to catch a virus within an image, a previous snapshot of the guest image can be reloaded in minutes, saving the time normally required to go through an extensive process to remediate the virus and operating system.
  • Security - Parameters can be set so that data can be kept wholly on the image, preventing any information from being taken of via external devices such as USB drives or disks. It can also act as a buffer from unwanted access, physically protecting the data from hackers. It also insulates from intrusion across the network acting as a "sandbox". Numerous Fortune 500 companies and governments use these methods to protect their information.
  • Cost Reduction - In general, most business computers cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. Servers cost more, and range from a few thousand dollars for the most basic to tens of thousands dollars. While business use of desktop Virtualization is only commonly used in some of the largest environments, server Virtualization is used extensively in the small to medium sized businesses for the cost-savings and ability to scale easily. Depending on the need of the company and IT design of the infrastructure, the need for multiple servers is becoming a thing of the past. Utilizing a single hardware host server running average applications, if built properly, 1 physical server can reasonably support 2-4 virtual servers. At TechStarters, we have moved entire environments to a virtual platform, saving companies thousands of dollars in overhead and cost of ownership.