What is virtualization

There is a lot of buzz going around about Virtualization.
What is Virtualization, and what benefits does it provide?
In this article we will take a look at the technology to see
how it can provide a great deal of flexibility and cost
effectiveness for IT professionals and software developers.
Virtualization technology allows multiple virtual machines
to run on a single host computer. These virtual machines can
run different operating systems, such as Windows, Linux and
UNIX. Each virtual machine has its own set of virtual
hardware resources (e.g., CPU, RAM, Hard Drive, etc)
allowing the operating system to run as if it were installed
on a physical machine.
The benefits of Virtualization technology are far reaching.
Many organizations have moved to the virtual machine
solution to consolidate multiple servers, running side by
side on a single physical machine. Server consolidation
allows IT professionals to fully utilize server resources,
while isolating virtual machines and allowing them to run
different operating systems and applications. Software
developers utilize virtual machine technology to quickly
test applications on different operating systems, without
the hassle of setting up multiple physical machines for
testing or taking the risk of causing problems by testing in
a production environment.
You can run Virtualization software on pretty much any
platform. Once the software is installed it is simple to
create virtual machine instances. Virtual machines are just
a set of files located on the host machine. You configure
your virtual machine settings on the host computer, install
the operating system and you are ready to go. It is a very
common practice to use a master image of a virtual machine.
This master image can be a fully configured machine, with
the operating system and all required applications
installed. You can then rapidly deploy virtual machines by
copying the master image to multiple Virtualization hosts to
provide zero downtime and 100% server availability.
There are a number of Virtualization products available.
VMWare, which is probably the most popular, recently
announced that it will be releasing a free version of its
GSX Server product. This will allow any organization to host
virtual machines on either Windows or Linux hosts. Other
Virtualization products include Microsoft’s Virtual Server and SWsoft’s Virtuozzo, just to name a few.