A Guide to Virtualization Platforms (With Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 8, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Virtualization software allows companies to increase their capabilities by using fewer resources. It's a valuable tool that improves software security and the development of features or updates, potentially reducing operational costs. Exploring its components and benefits is vital if you are interested in understanding how virtualization functions. In this article, we examine what virtualization platforms are, review what a hypervisor is, explore the various benefits of virtualization, and list popular virtualization software.

What are virtualization platforms?

Virtualization platforms or software allow you to use a physical computer to host one or more virtual machines. A virtual machine is an independent computer with an operating system (OS) that can differ from the host's OS, using only a portion of hardware. This process permits you to access two or more different operating systems from a single computer. For example, suppose your primary hardware runs on Windows. Because of virtualization software, you can host virtual machines operating on Mac or Linux.

Related: What Is Virtualization and How Does It Work? (With Types)

What is a hypervisor?

A hypervisor is an essential component of virtualization software that functions as the connecting layer between your physical hosting hardware and its virtual machines. This layer is responsible for distributing and allocating a host's resources to provide virtual machines with computing power, storage, and memory. Hypervisors allow virtual machines to coexist with each other without interference, each receiving the necessary amount of energy to function independently.

Related: What Is Virtualization Technology vs. Cloud Virtualization?

What are the benefits of virtualization platforms?

Virtualization software extracts resources from a physical host to create virtual environments, making it a valuable tool for developing a company's IT infrastructure and cloud computing strategies. This process allows IT departments to more efficiently use computer hardware because one physical server can host various networks, servers and applications, increase storage capacities, serve clients, and improve a company's return on investment. Here's a detailed description of some of the benefits virtualization software provides:

Cost-effective consolidation

A company's IT department can benefit from implementing virtualization software because it increases its computing capabilities with minimal resources. Instead of spending funds and relying on multiple pieces of hardware, virtualization allows you to use one piece of hardware to host multiple virtual machines. This cost-effective method helps companies spend less on servers and will enable them to invest those extra funds in other operational processes. Virtualization's ability to host virtual environments with diverging operating systems can also reduce the cost of having multiple servers dedicated to each type of operating system.

Related: What Is Resource Management and Why Is It Important?

Easier experimentation of features

Virtualization's virtual machines represent a valuable tool for experimentation because each one functions independently. You can duplicate a virtual machine and use it to test new features, explore and fix bugs, and identify ways to improve a system without interfering with your live service, benefitting the development phase of updates and software security. For developers, virtualization also allows them more creative freedom to discover how a system reacts to new features and whether such changes are beneficial.

Access to different operating systems

The ability to create virtual machines with operating systems that differ from the primary server can benefit your operational development and the user experience. Instead of setting up a new server or re-partitioning a computer's hard drive, you can use a virtual machine to conduct tests in Linux or Mac. Sometimes, a specific application can only work in one operating system. With virtualization, you can easily overcome this issue, gaining deeper insight into how some applications function.

Efficient management of IT infrastructure

IT departments can create, manage, and implement software policies more efficiently because virtualization software reduces a company's number of servers. Instead of updating each server separately, which can require an extensive time investment, you can install changes multilaterally through the various virtual environments hosted by one server. This method also enables companies to use automated service administration workflows and virtualization security policies, reducing the need for manual configurations. Virtualization software helps companies manage their IT infrastructure and resources more efficiently, improving overall productivity and user accessibility.

Related: How to Get Into IT (With Tips to Build Your IT Career)

Improved recovery process

Errors or bugs are common occurrences that can negatively affect a company's operational procedures. If a business relies on multiple physical servers, fixing or replacing one can range from hours to days. It's a time-consuming process requiring analysis and examination of other servers to ensure they're working as intended. Virtualization software simplifies this recovery process because when a virtualized machine is affected, it's isolated from the rest, allowing you to analyze, fix, and replicate the affected virtual machine in minutes instead of hours. It also ensures that other virtual machines continue to function without interruption.

Related: What Is Cloud Architecture? Virtual Data Storage and Sharing

Environmentally-friendly operation

With the reduced hardware that virtualization enables, companies can decrease the power consumption of their operational processes. They can minimize their carbon footprint and business expenses, allowing them to invest those funds elsewhere in the company or other ventures. Virtualization is also beneficial from a public relations perspective because companies can demonstrate their extensive data management capabilities without negatively affecting the environment, generating positive publicity and encouraging other companies to adopt the process.

List of popular virtualization platforms

Virtualization software can benefit companies in various ways to improve policy development, increase software security, and reduce operational costs. It's a valuable tool that allows businesses to use fewer resources to produce more fruitful results by maximizing a single piece of hardware's computing capabilities. When an organization correctly implements this methodology, it can create an efficient and productive IT infrastructure. Here's a list of virtualization software that companies can use:

VMware vSphere

VMware vSphere helps companies develop applications and maintain servers through virtualization. It uses the ESXi hypervisor for page sharing and compression, allowing users to access virtual resources quickly. With its intuitive client interface, vSphere allows for easy extensions of its functionalities, which is valuable for companies searching for a customizable service they can integrate into their operational processes. VMware vSphere offers various authentication tools, such as vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO) and Security Token Service (STS), to secure cloud assets, monitor user activities, and certify users.

Microsoft Hyper-V

Microsoft Hyper-V is virtualization software that allows IT departments to create multiple virtual machines to manage workloads. It accesses a company's hardware storage devices, network, and graphics to ensure the instant distribution of resources for seamless collaboration between departments. This platform's flexibility permits users to switch between hardware, consolidate and perform tasks in fewer steps, and operate a wide range of virtual machines with Microsoft's Active Directory security management tool.

SolarWinds Virtualization Manager

SolarWinds Virtualization Manager focuses on a company's management of its virtual machines. It offers VMware and Hyper-V visibility, allowing seamless integration with other virtualization software. An organization can monitor physical hosts, cloud-based functions, or hybrid virtual environments with SolarWinds Virtualization Manager. This software can optimize operational processes, increase virtual machines' capabilities, and manage virtual environments' performance. It also features an automatic notification tool allowing companies to identify opportunities to reduce the processing power for a more efficient allocation of resources.

Oracle VM

Oracle VM focuses on performing demanding processes with minimal user supervision and downtime. It offers a centralized management tool to monitor server resources, virtual machines, user accessibility, and networking. A company's virtual machine with Oracle VM has the Oracle application tools pre-installed. These proprietary application tools allow users to migrate virtual machines between servers without disrupting maintenance cycles and security updates. Oracle VM supports six terabytes (TB) of memory and 384 hardware CPUs, allowing each virtual machine to accommodate more than 200 virtual CPUs.

Parallels Desktop

Unlike most virtualization software that provides services exclusively for businesses, Parallels Desktop also offers its services for personal use. This platform enables Mac users to use the Windows operating system on their Mac computers. It supports the current Windows OS with instant access to Microsoft Office programs and has a new view mode that allows for easier access and use of virtual machines within your Mac window.

Red Hat Virtualization

Red Hat Virtualization uses Linux and KVM to support and manage a business' workload, allowing users to migrate and develop virtual machines with access to base licences and applications. These applications function on scaling data, enabling minimal to zero downtime and low latency. Red Hat's open-source service helps businesses easily customize their development cycles, services, and protocols with the platform's consistent management tools.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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