Virtual as its name says is not real or in other words, we are creating something which is not real. The term virtualization can be applied to any field where we simulate virtual resources. In the Linux world, it can be referred as the process of running one or more virtual machines on a physical machine which runs using Linux operating system.
Why should one opt virtualization?
We would have seen sharing of resources in a computer network for better utilization as in cases like printers, scanners etc. If we were allocated separate and dedicated printers/scanners (which are rarely used) to every computer in a network, how big would the expense come? Similarly, all of them would be under utilized too. The same principle can be applied to computer resources like Processor, RAM etc. Rather than not using the available memory and CPU in the physical machine we can allocate them to multiple virtual machines to process various applications/jobs. This way we are doing multitasking, better utilization of available resources all using the same hardware. In other words, with the help of virtualization, we can simulate entire HW and pretend to OS that all the hardware it sees exists.
The following figure can be considered to understand the basic concept of visualization.
What are the key advantages of virtualization?
The main advantages which virtualization brings to an organization can be jotted down as follows.
- Improved hardware consolidation.
- Reduced total expenditure.
- Improved application/programming isolation.
- Better secured system.
- Increased system reliability.
- Less time needed to rebuild a system.
- Easiness with server migrations.
- Require less space, less maintenance.
- Ability to test your application on multiple platforms.
- Ease to increase/decrease resources on the fly etc.
Are there any major disadvantages to virtualization?
- In a no redundancy system (having no high availability), there is a high risk in case of a physical hardware fault.
- There could be sometimes performance degradations in the virtual environment compared to similar hardware in the physical environment. A virtual machine created without proper planning and hardware allocation can cause delays and performance issues.
- Some say it’s a complicated setup and requires more skills to manage and troubleshoot.
What are commonly used Linux virtualization solutions?
Popular Linux virtualization solutions include Xen, KVM, QEMU, VirtualBox and VMware etc.
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