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Virtualization has been a big part of enterprise computing since the mainframe days of the 60s when computing resources were time-shared by universities and large companies. Today, virtualization has largely the same function, as the demands of cloud computing require vast quantities of virtual instances to serve the needs of many people at once.

How Cloud Computing Employs Virtualization To Scale

Before your company migrates to the cloud, it pays to have an understanding of the underlying architecture of cloud computing. In this article, we explore virtualization in cloud computing and how it’s used to deliver a seamless, scalable experience for businesses.

What Is Virtualization?

To put it simply, virtualization refers to the process of creating and running a virtual instance of a computer system in a layer separated from the actual hardware being used to run it. To do this, a computer utilizes special software that simulates hardware functionality to create a virtual system on top of the actual system. On the consumer side, this is most commonly seen when you attempt to run an OS in a virtual machine that runs on top of a host OS like Windows or Mac OS.

Virtualization can be described as creating a computer that runs within another computer. The virtual computer, or guest machine, is a fully functional computer that can accomplish the same processes your physical computer can. The processes accomplished by the guest machine are separated from the underlying processes of your host machine. You can run multiple guest machines on your host machine and each one will recognize the others as a separate computer.

What Role Does Virtualization Play In Cloud Computing?

With personal computers, a single user has access to the complete data and computing resources of a single machine. In contrast, cloud computing involves many users interacting with resources that may be found on a single physical server.

To serve each user’s unique needs, cloud providers employ virtualization to create environments that can fulfill each customer’s demands. As more users come in, cloud providers can spin up more virtual instances to meet demand. As people leave the system, these systems can be quickly powered down. Virtualization, therefore, is an efficient way of managing computing resources, maximizing utilization, and minimizing downtime.

Types Of Virtualization In Cloud Computing

Virtualization has many practical applications. Other than being able to run a different operating system on your device (which is usually called hardware virtualization), it also allows users to allocate hardware resources into other functions that maximize your hardware’s performance. Below are some examples of how virtualization is utilized in cloud computing.

Server Virtualization

Physical servers are powerful machines with multiple processors that host files and applications on a computer network. For streamlining purposes, each physical server is typically dedicated to one specific application or task. However, this can become inefficient since each server will only be using a fraction of its available processing resources.

Server virtualization deals with this problem by allowing an administrator to convert a server into multiple virtual machines. These virtual machines all utilize the server’s resources and will act as physical devices independent of one another, allowing you to allocate the server’s processing capabilities as you see fit.

Application Virtualization

Traditionally running an application uses your existing operating system and its hardware resources. Essentially, you are running the application on top of your computer. Application virtualization encapsulates the application and separates it from the underlying operating system. This gives you access to the application without installing it onto the native device.

Application virtualization allows an administrator to install the application onto a server. Anyone with access to this server can then access the application and run it as if it were installed on their respective devices. This provides users with benefits such as portability, cross-platform operation, and the ability to run multiple instances of the application.

Network Virtualization

A computer network refers to a group of digitally connected computers that can communicate with each other and share resources. Network virtualization refers to the process of combining network resources into a single software-based network. This creates a virtual network that gives you administrative control over all the hardware and software resources available on the original network.

Network visualization allows you to either combine many networks into one unit (external visualization) or to connect software containers into a network of their own (internal visualization). Any type of network visualization allows you to divide available bandwidth into separate channels that can be assigned and reassigned as needed.

Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization allows the user to create a virtual desktop which is typically hosted on a centralized data center. The user can then remotely access this virtual desktop from anywhere through a thin client (such as a web browser), essentially creating a portable workstation.

Storage Virtualization

Storage virtualization refers to the process of abstracting multiple physical storage devices and compiling them into a single storage cluster that is managed from a central device. These storage devices will then appear to the user as a single storage device.

Scalability Is Key

One of the great advantages of the virtualization model, and indeed of cloud computing in general, is scalability. Migrating to the cloud allows your applications and storage to scale with your needs, and you don’t even have to lift a finger to do it.

To take full advantage of this scalability factor, you need to migrate everything that matters to the cloud, a painstaking process that’s best left to the experts – like us. At Network Coverage, we have years of experience in providing cloud and IT services to enterprise customers. Contact us now for a free consultation, and we can help you virtualize your servers or fully enter the cloud.


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