In 2008, there was a lot of talk around communications devices, but in many corporations one of the hottest IT topics was a technology called “virtualization”. So I’ll start the new year by explaining what virtualization is and why you might be interested in it.
Simply put, virtualization is a way of making a single computer do the work of many. As organizations buy more and more powerful hardware, they often find themselves with too much equipment and with capacity than is not being used.
With virtualization technology, these organizations can partition pieces of a single computer and use it for multiple purposes, efficiently using its capacity.
Without virtualization, companies often use multiple pieces of hardware, called servers, each one running a particular piece of software, confusingly also called a server. So the software servers, such as Windows Server (used for sharing files and running applications), SQL Server (used for corporate databases), Exchange Server (used for email), Internet Information Server (used for hosting websites), etc., each run on their own computer.
If each computer is only partially utilized, there can be tremendous waste in the cost of equipment, electricity, floor space, air conditioning, etc.
With virtualization, any number of software servers can run on a single computer, optimizing the use of hardware. In fact, even desktop operating systems like Windows XP, Vista, or Linux can be run in a virtual environment, and so can individual program applications. How they are configured is controlled by utilities that you use to allocate available hardware to your needs. These utilities allow you to set up “virtual machines”, whereby you allocate pieces of the computer’s central processing unit, memory, hard drive, and other resources, to each virtual machine.