“Virtualization” is one of those trendy terms these days, much like “green IT” or “cloud computing.” What exactly does it mean, though? To put it simply, virtualization is a description of how a service can be logically separated from the physical hardware that is traditionally used to provide it.
For instance, a local area network (LAN) traditionally was provided by one or more switches. Segmenting the network into multiple networks meant buying separate switches for each subnet. Today, multiple networks can be logically segmented across one or more switches by use of virtual LANs (VLANs).
The logical separation of service from hardware is not limited to networking. Virtualization tends to fall into one of four major categories:
- Virtual LANs (VLANs): As previously discussed, this refers to one or more switches that act as multiple networks.
- Platform virtualization: This uses a hypervisor to abstract operating system(s) from physical hardware, allowing multiple virtual systems to run on a single piece of hardware. Platform virtualization is a major trend in IT that often is discussed in the context of environmental friendliness since it reduces electrical usage and the amount of servers needed. It’s also a major money saver: An average server costs as much as the amount of electricity it uses during a three-year period, and platform virtualization can reduce the number of servers needed by as much as 40-to-1. That is a huge payback.
- Application virtualization: A…
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