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What Are the Different Types of Virtualization Services?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Virtualization services are digital copies of software or hardware, rather than physical models that take up extra space or memory. Application and desktop virtualization services are nearly identical, because each virtualizes the software for a computer, but desktop virtualization is more intensive. Hardware virtualization splits a computer’s hardware into chunks, and each chunk is used for a different process. Server virtualization is similar but involves installing multiple digital servers on one physical server, which reduces heat and power use and allows the server to run multiple processes at once. Operating system (OS) virtualization splits the hardware into chunks for the specific purpose of installing another OS on the computer.

Application and desktop virtualization services are both performed on a desktop or laptop computer — these are typically for business purposes, so desktops are more common — that virtualizes the software. When a computer runs, the software normally is stored on the computer and the computer locally accesses this software to run a program. With virtualization, the software is stored on a server outside the computer that the computer can access, meaning the computer itself does not have any software. Desktop virtualization is a little more intensive, because it removes the need for a central processing unit (CPU), with all processing done through the server.

With hardware virtualization services, the computer’s hardware is sectioned off into chunks. This can occur to nearly any piece of hardware, such as the CPU, hard drive or random access memory (RAM). When a section of the hardware is split, that section can only be used for a certain purpose; for example, if the chunk is made for encryption purposes, then the chunk will be used exclusively for encrypting.

Server virtualization services are similar to hardware virtualization, because hardware is being split; the difference is that this is exclusively for a server, while hardware virtualization is typically for a desktop or laptop. Making a virtual server means taking several server programs and placing them on one server. While this reduces the overall power of each virtual server, because they rely on the hardware from one physical server, adding extra RAM can alleviate this. Virtualization reduces heat and power usage, making the server cheaper to operate.

OS virtualization services allow more than one OS to run on a computer. The hard drive is split into sections, and each section has a separate OS. Some computers are capable of running each OS simultaneously, but most computers do not have enough power for this and each OS is used separately.

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