Virtualization is the act of moving a physical component or bit of software from a physical environment to a digital one that is normally delivered over a network. This concept has become one of the most sought after tech improvements of the past decade, especially among small to medium businesses. The only problem is, virtualization is complex and carries with it some confusing terminology. To make things easier, we have created a glossary of ten common virtualization terms.
1. Virtual Machine (VM)You will often hear virtualization experts bandy about the term VM. What they are talking about when they say this is the Virtual Machine. The VM is essentially a virtual representation of the computer on your desk. It can do everything a physical machine does, only everything is virtual and usually delivered over a network connection.
Because VMs are software based, you can often run more than one VM on the same physical machine. This could equate to having say two separate versions of Windows running at the same time, or even running a different operating system, say Windows on your MacBook.
2. Virtual serverA specific type of VM, in this case a server, that is running in a virtual environment. A common setup many offices employ is to have one physical server on premise. This server then hosts separate virtual servers that in turn host different services like email, networking, storage, etc.
Other businesses choose to rely completely on virtual servers. This is where another company hosts the servers which are delivered to you over the Internet. To the computers and users it appears the servers are there on your network, and can be interacted with normally when in truth, the servers are actually virtual.
3. Virtual desktopMuch like the virtual server, the virtual desktop is a specific type of VM. In this case, it is a virtually delivered version of an operating system like Windows, Linux or even OS X.
Since the advent of virtual desktops, the idea that companies have to stick with one type of operating system has started to become irrelevant. For example, if you own a Mac and need to access a Windows only program, one solution is to use a virtual version of Windows. If you have access to one, you will be able to run Windows from your Mac without having to physically install it on your computer.
4. HypervisorThe hypervisor is essentially a small operating system that enables virtualization. Its job is to take physical hardware resources and combine them into a platform that is then delivered virtually to one, or many different users.
5. Host systemThe host system, also referred to as the parent, is where the physical hardware and software is installed. These physical components are then copied by the hypervisor and delivered in a virtual state to the user. If you are creating a virtual desktop environment, then the host system will have the desktop's OS installed on it, along with the necessary software.
6. Guest systemThe guest system, also referred to as the child, is where the VM is accessed. To carry the example on from above, the OS that is installed on the host machine is replicated by the hypervisor and the copy is then delivered to the user.
The user can interact with the OS just as they would with the physical host machine, because the guest system is an exact copy of the host. The only difference is, the guest machine is virtual instead of physical.
7. Virtual InfrastructureWhen you combine a bunch of different types of VMs together into one solution, including hardware, storage, desktops, and servers you create a virtual infrastructure.
This can then be deployed to businesses who are looking for a completely virtualized solution. The easiest way to think of this is that your whole IT infrastructure is combined into one solution and virtualized. Many companies look for a solution like this because it reduces the need for on-premise hardware, while making it easier for an IT partner to manage.
8. P2VP2V, or Physical to Virtual, is a term used by IT experts to refer to the act of migrating a physical system to a virtual one. The most common example of P2V is the merging of physical servers into a virtual environment that is hosted on one server.
9. SnapshotA snapshot is an image of the state of the virtual machine at a specific point of time. This includes all of the data, configurations, and even windows or programs open at that time. Snapshots are used kind of like the Save button on video games - it saves your progress. When you next load up the VM, you will get all of your data, programs, and configurations back.
Snapshots are also kept in case something goes wrong with the VM. You can easily revert back to an older snapshot, one that was taken before the problem.
10. CloneThe action of taking one VM and creating an exact copy that can then be used by another computer or user.
If you are looking to learn more about virtualization, contact us today to see how we can help.