Virtualization represents an abstraction from physical resources. All uses of virtualization are centered around this concept. There are three major types of virtualization: server virtualization, client (or desktop) virtualization, and storage virtualization.
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The Different Types of Virtualization

Virtualization represents an abstraction from physical resources. All uses of virtualization are centered around this concept.

There are three major types of virtualization:

1. Server Virtualization

This type is where most of the attention is focused right now in the world of virtualization and is where most companies begin an implementation of this technology. That's not very shocking in light of the fact that server sprawl has become a very large and legitimate problem in enterprises throughout the world. Where a company is simply running out of room in which to place all of their servers, this type of virtualization would of course get viewed with strong interest.

Because each server typically serves one function (i.e., mail server, file server, Internet server, enterprise resource planning server, etc.), with each server using only a fraction of its true processing power, server virtualization breaks through the "one application, one server" barrier and facilitates the consolidation of numerous servers into one physical server. This equates to (a) less physical servers required, and (b) 70 to 80 percent or higher utilization of existing hardware as opposed to the previous 10 to 15 percent.

Server virtualization lets one server do the job of multiple servers by sharing the resources of a single server across multiple environments. The software lets a company host multiple operating systems and multiple applications locally and in remote locations, freeing users from physical and geographical limitations.

How are the servers moved over?

Most, if not all, virtualization solutions offer a migration tool to take an existing physical server and make a virtual hard drive image of that server to the driver stack. Then that server will boot up and run as a virtual server. There is no need to rebuild servers or manually reconfigure them as a virtual server.

Without a doubt, the greatest advantage of server virtualization is cost. In addition to energy savings and lower capital expenses due to more efficient use of hardware resources, you get high availability of resources, better management, and improved disaster-recovery processes with a virtual infrastructure. You save on physical space, reduce power consumption and the need for as much cooling, and are able to rapidly deploy a new application without ordering new hardware.

There are three different methods that can be employed under the server virtualization category but I'm not going to get into them right now because I'm trying very hard to be as simple about this as I can possibly be. Whichever method is used, the goal of server consolidation is the same.

2. Client (or Desktop) Virtualization

This type of virtualization technology has to do with a client (a workstation desktop or laptop pc - an end user machine). These can be very difficult for a systems administrator to manage. Whereas any machine in the company's data center has very strict procedures regarding what gets loaded on them and when they get updated with new software releases, it is often a quite different scene when it comes to the end-user machine.

Even if there are supposed to be procedures followed for the above actions on an end-user machine, those procedures are often not followed or paid much heed. A CD or DVD slot makes it easy for non-approved software to be installed that can create problems on that machine. Quite aside from that, end-user machines are more susceptible to malware in numerous ways - via e-mail viruses, unwitting spyware downloads, etc. Last but not least, most end-user machines run on Microsoft Windows which is well known for attracting attacks from hackers and cybercriminals.

IT has to not only deal with all those problems but also attend to the normal problems inherent in client machines: keeping approved software up-to-date, patching the OS, keeping virus definitions current, et al.

All of these factors make an IT guy's job quite challenging. So client virtualization, with the hope of easier client machine management and security, attracts the interest of IT.

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