It might be a term that leaves the layman baffled, but virtualization technology has been around since the 1960s. In computing, virtualization refers to the logical separation of compute power between different applications. It’s a little bit like multitasking on steroids in that it allows for a single physical machine to perform the roles of multiple computers simultaneously.
A powerful server, for example, typically provides enough power to deliver desktop experiences to lots of end users throughout the organization, instead of computing workloads being handled by individual workstations. In the age of cloud data centers, these workloads are usually handled in remote facilities and delivered over the internet to provide a similar, if not better, experience as using a conventional desktop computer. All the end user needs is any device connected to the internet.
What are the benefits of virtualization?
Virtualization is all about increasing efficiency. You can compare it to an apartment block with only one tenant versus one in which every residence is occupied. For example, one high-end server computer can run multiple desktop operating systems to deliver end-user experiences in which all data and applications are hosted centrally. Better yet, almost any type of computing workload can be virtualized, including servers, desktops, storage arrays, and entire networks.
The next major benefit of virtualization is flexibility. Since the end-user computing experience is separated from the underlying computing hardware with an additional software layer, your virtualized resources may be accessed from any device. That means you’re no longer dependent on a specific operating system or hardware configuration. You can run legacy software while taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies as well. Software-defined virtual machines also exist in the form of files much like a Microsoft Word document, which means they can easily be moved around and copied. This makes it much quicker to provision applications and desktops to new employees and implement a rock-solid business continuity plan.
Another key benefit of virtualization is that it greatly reduces hardware requirements. Add the cloud into the mix, and the compute power is taken care of remotely, with resources available on demand for a predictable subscription fee. This also allows you to turn the simplest devices into computing powerhouses, since little or no computing work takes place on the end-user device itself. This allows you to use barebones computers like thin clients or even zero clients, which don’t even need to have an operating system installed. Together, these benefits result in reduced costs and vastly improved business resiliency.
So, what’s the catch?
While there are few drawbacks to using virtualization technology, it’s not the ideal fit for every application. There are still some computing workloads that are better off being handled by a powerful workstation. For example, very performance-intensive applications like video editing and graphic design consume huge amounts of bandwidth, and are generally better off using local computing resources.
Similarly, some applications require specific peripherals, common examples being proprietary technologies used in manufacturing environments. For the overwhelming majority of everyday desktop applications used in today’s businesses, such as productivity software, however, virtualization is the obvious solution for increasing efficiency and keeping overheads to a minimum.
Another occasional challenge with virtualization is software licensing. Some software is really only intended to run on a single processor, which means it won’t run in a virtual environment. It’s important to make sure that you’re running an operating system and other software licenses that allow for use in such cases. Fortunately, most software developers, including Microsoft, now provide licenses on a per-user rather than per-device basis.
Binatech helps businesses accomplish more with less through virtualization technologies that greatly reduce your reliance on in-house IT. Contact us now to propel your business to greater success.