Virtualization: what is it and how is it trending: Virtualization is a technological term meaning the creation of a virtual version of something, such as a computer operating system, server or application.
If you have ever divided your hard drive into partitions, you already know something about virtualization, as the partition allows you to create, in effect, two separate hard drives. Virtualization takes that concept a step further, allowing a single piece of hardware to run multiple operating systems at the same time.
Virtualization – its history
The actual technology dates back to the 1960s, when system administrators wanted to avoid wasting expensive processing power on their main frames. The goal of virtualization is often to centralize administrative tasks while improving scalability and workloads.
The concept of virtualization is closely tied to time-sharing solutions or the shared usage of computer resources among a large group of users. This model was a major breakthrough in the computer industry, dropping the cost of computing capabilities and making it possible for groups or individuals to use a computing device without actually owning one.
Today, data centres use virtualization techniques to create large pools of computer resources, offered to users in the form of consolidated virtual machines. Even though the technology has evolved, the core meaning of virtualization remains the same: enabling a computing environment to run multiple independent systems at the same time.
Canada’s Sphere3D is a specialist in virtualization, through its Glassware 2.0 product, an application virtualization technology. Glassware 2.0 has the ability to virtualize apps that to date had not been virtualizable. The company’s technology addresses an underserved market for legacy software applications, from the likes of Windows XP to proprietary mainframe applications.
Peter Tassiopoulos, president of Sphere3D, explains that the technology in many ways brings freedom to users. Peter Tassiopoulos adds that Sphere3D delivers applications on demand and the technology sits on a single server.
There are some well accepted and inherent benefits to using virtualization, such as reducing the number of physical servers, reducing the infrastructure needed for a data centre, reducing administrative overhead because servers can be administered from a single console, and the ability to bring up new servers quickly.
For most computer users, virtualization is synonymous with server virtualization, meaning you can run multiple operating systems on a single server. For instance, you could operate five Windows servers and 5 Linux servers on one physical server — with each operating independently as if they have their own hardware.
Challenges and the future
Still, there are some technological challenges to overcome. Even though virtualization has been widely adopted, reducing costs and energy consumption, there are still many legacy applications deployed in traditional machines. That’s because existing conversion methods (from physical to virtual) can cause long server downtimes during the conversion process, making such methods both impractical and inefficient.
Also, although virtualization is a mature technology, it’s still not well known outside of IT circles. The challenge for computer professionals is to explain and promote virtualization, so consumers and businesses understand its benefits.