Introduction to Virtualization and its Types

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Virtualization is not a new technology which has suddenly boomed, resulting in a lot of people wanting to know about it. The technology has always been prevalent, but in the last few years it is has gained prominence and has been the talk of the town.

Trends like Cloud computing which brought about the paradigm shoft in the IT industry if frequently also used interchangeably with virtualization. For huge corporate sectors, virtualization is not a question any longer, but an answer that provides the perfect solution.

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is a term used when creating a virtual environment for any program to run on an existing platform as a guest, without interfering or interrupting with the host platform’s services or programs. The virtual environment running might be an Operating System, Storage device, Network or an Application server among other things.

It would be easier to understand the concept with more details like it types and uses. Below are some Types of Virtualization:

Operating System Virtualization

Operating System Virtualization is a type of Virtualization concept that most users today are familiar with. It typically allows you to run and install any kind of Operating system like Windows, or a Linux distro on your existing operating system. It requires a Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) which allows you to install and manage multiple operating systems running simultaneously even (If your machine has sufficient resources).

The operating systems run virtually of course without any knowledge that it is installed on an existing platform or that there is another virtual operating system running alongside (If you choose to install multiple operating systems on your VMM). VMware is probably the one of the most widely used Virtual Machine Manager’s.

In the IT industry, this serves as a huge benefit. It allows them to run their server on the virtual environment, which results in saving the costs of an extra machine, hardware components, space, location fees, power management, etc.

Network Virtualization

Chances are that many enterprises; although having deployed and used this form of virtualization are unaware that they are indeed using it. The only difference is, they don’t refer to it as virtualization, that is all. It may not be used at end user level but the even small enterprises deploy it.

In its very basic form, a VLAN created even on a small network can be termed as Network Virtualization. In Network Virtualization, Two (or more) virtual networks can be created within the same physical network belonging to the same IP range and yet they do not have the authorization to communicate with each other. They operate in their own logical network, with each logical network having a different set of processes and functions to perform. They are segregated within the same physical network.

Hardware Virtualization

An individual independent segment of hardware may consist of smaller pieces of hardware from multiple locations but are treated as a single independent device. The process requesting the hardware is totally unaware and usually only alerts in case if the hardware requirements for the process isn’t met.

In other instance, if any process is pre-allocated say about 30 percent of CPU resources, 30 percent of CPU will be set aside and allocated to only that process. The process isn’t allowed more than 30 percent of CPU resources, and if it comes to that, the processes are queued up and run on FIFO (First In First Out) basis.

Storage Virtualization

Storage Virtualization is of mainly 2 types, Block and File.

In Block Virtualization, multiple storage devices are consolidated, which then actually appears as a single physical storage device. This helps the administrators in many ways such as Load Balancing, optimizing performance and speed. Technically, they actually RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) these devices and configure it depending on the type of RAID system they need. In fact, even something as simple as Partitioning you own hard drive into more than one partitions can be considered as an example.

File Virtualization, as the name suggests, is the file or directory stored on the hard drive, which is located in a data center. The file may not be stored within your personal folder; in fact, the folder might not even have your own name, it may be located in a data center across the globe.


Apart from these, virtualization can also be defined in other ways such as virtualization for Application,  Application Server, Service virtualization, Infrastructure, Management and maybe more. The new standards and types have recently come to light as per the requirements of the IT industry. Some companies known to provide Virtualization services are Microsoft, IBM, HP, VMware, Citrix and the list goes on.

Photo Credit – Kwesterh (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Darshik Jariwala is an IT Professional from Canada, with 3+ years of experience and knowledge in various verticals in the IT industry. In his leisure time, he loves writing Blogs, Reading, watching Movies, occasional Photography and most of all having coffee with friends. You can also befriend him on , and .

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