There are many types of virtualization technology and, therefore, a number of different virtualization products. The computer virtualization concept that began in the early 1960s has led to the emergence of everything from virtual networks to virtual infrastructures. Among the most common products are solutions geared towards servers, desktops, and applications.
Server virtualization products are designed to create multiple virtual servers that emulate physical machines. This is made possible by the creation of individual operating system (OS) environments that are logically isolated from one another. Through the virtualization process, a multitude of operating systems are able to run on a single physical machine at one time. The goal of server virtualization products is to maximize the utilization of the underlying hardware and its resources.
Desktop virtualization products use the client-server model to separate the desktop environment from the physical machine. This type of software provides a user with remote access to their PC, whether it is located at home, in the office, or in a data center. A virtualized desktop can be accessed by a wide range of end-user devices, including thin clients, laptop computers, and PDAs. Desktop virtualization can make a PC accessible over any supporting network connection, on virtually any compatible device.
Application virtualization products isolate applications running on the hardware from the OS and one another. These enable the deployment of a virtual environment — complete with registry keys, DLLs, and frameworks — without the need for any additional applications or services to be installed on the host system. Application virtualization offers many benefits, including cost savings on software licenses, optimal resource allocation, and more efficient hardware utilization. These products are used in fields such as e-commerce, online banking, and supply chain management.
Virtualization products are developed by many different vendors. Two of the leading providers are Microsoft® and VMware®. One of Microsoft’s® most popular products is Microsoft Virtual Server®, a stand-alone virtual machine monitor (VMM) that aids in the creation of virtual machines on Windows XP®, Windows Vista®, and Windows Server® operating systems. VMWare Server™ is just one of many in VMWare’s® extensive portfolio of virtualization products. This software is well known for its ability to run on top of the host OS, and in addition to virtual machines running on the system.
As computing evolves, virtualization continues to advance. For years, this technology has enabled organizations and users to maximize their hardware while enjoying optimal performance from their applications. Considering its prevalence in the IT world, the future introduction of more innovative virtualization products is very likely.