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Virtualization is a significant part of cloud computing technology and its mechanism. It provides applications to cloud customers using a combination of various types of hardware and Operating Systems (OS). Knowing about cloud virtualization allows the IT professional and cloud practitioner to suggest the right service providers to your company.
You need access to robust tools that help you to manage your company resources and administer usage and reap the benefits of the various types of virtualization.
As an IT professional working with cloud technologies, you do not want to spend valuable time managing your virtual servers. Cloud computing certifications that teach you about virtualization can prove to be an investment as you implement your skills in your place of work and better your chances of getting appreciated.
What is Cloud Virtualization?
Cloud virtualization is the underpinning of cloud computing services that allows hardware and virtual systems to work with software tools. Virtualization is a technology as well as software that manages the hardware.
Cloud virtualization is cost-effective, as it cuts down on the use of hardware, saves energy, and averts operational silos with seamless migration. Virtualization shares a single resource or an application in parallel. It supports the delivery of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions for cloud computing among multiple customers and organizations in parallel. The virtualization technologies help execute applications and provide storage, memory, and networking.
How Virtualization Works
Virtual machines exist over and above the existing hardware and OS to run other systems and applications. They are installed directly on the hardware, functioning as an intermediate layer between the hardware and the virtual machine/s. The virtualization performs through dedicated software on virtual machines, servers, and OS. These programs can extend the hardware to create virtual versions shared among multiple organizations or users. Virtualization is an ecosystem separate from the underlying hardware, managed by firmware or hypervisor. The machine or system thus takes on the role of the host machine and the virtual environment, the guest machine.
Features of Virtualization
Cloud virtualization has several characteristics that find specific business use and budgetary considerations.
- There is increased security as the virtual machine manager controls and evaluates activities of guest programs, analyzing untrusted codes in sandbox environments.
- The segregated computing environment within the same host reduces the active servers and energy consumption.
- Virtualization allows multiple servers to run simultaneously on a physical server.
- These virtual servers are separated, not affecting the functioning of parallel servers.
- The separation allows the virtual servers to migrate to different hardware.
- All data on the virtual servers are encapsulated in file format.
Types of Virtualization in Cloud Computing
There are various types of cloud virtualization based on the hardware, software, OS, networks, etc. Each virtualization type allows customization to suit different environments and benefits the business owner wants to prioritize. Although there are many types of virtualization, these are the main broad categories:
Desktop virtualization is the most common form of virtualization. It creates a virtual desktop for the remote user, hosted on a centralized data hub. Desktop virtualization installs the OS on the user’s device stored on a remote server allowing access to his device from any location using a thin client like a web browser. It has found prolific use in the work-from-home work culture. Employees can work from home while accessing company data and resources through virtualization and secure protocols. The portable and remote workstation enabled by desktop virtualization has forever changed the way businesses operate.
Here, the application is stored virtually on a server allowing the user access from his device. As the application is not installed directly on the device, it enables access to the user from any location or device connected to the Internet. It saves device storage since the application rests on the server, not the machine. Application virtualization segregates the application from the user OS, giving access to the application without installation onto the native device. This type of virtualization has again enabled companies with proprietary or licensed apps to continue functioning as employees working from home could access the company’s application from their own devices.
The Internet is a complex environment where many physical networks merge into a virtual network that pools resources. Hardware components of the network, such as routers and switches, assimilate into a single software-based network. It allows administrative control over the hardware and software resources and allocates need-based resources to users and devices. Companies can also reassign the available bandwidth of each partitioned resource as needed. Network virtualization is controlled through a central virtual network management system like a virtual local area network (VLAN) or local area network (LAN), making it possible for devices to be connected even if they are not in proximity.
Physical servers are usually devoted to a specific application or task. It causes inefficient resource utilization, as only a fraction of the available processing resources is utilized. This problem is dealt with server virtualization, also known as hardware-assisted virtualization, by allowing the conversion of a server into multiple virtual machines that use the pool of resources while remaining segregated. A central physical server splits into several virtual servers by assigning separate identity numbers and processors with their OS. It saves floor space as many servers can be virtualized and stored on a single machine instead of investing in additional physical servers and incurring infrastructure costs. As physical resources distribute across servers, it allows the virtual migration of host servers. Performance is increased and seamless, cutting down on energy consumption.
As the term suggests, storage virtualization is virtualizing the storage capacity. Multiple physical storage devices aggregate into a single storage cluster managed from a central device that functions as a virtual storage system. The virtualized storage hub controls the storage of multiple sources using storage virtualization software for uninterrupted operations and dependable performance despite variations in the underpinning hardware, software or OS.
This homogenization of storage across multiple devices of variable capacities helps boost speed, reduce downtime, enable better load balancing and superior performance, data back-ups and migration. Partitioning a hard drive or a virtual storage type of Storage Area Network (SAN) are examples of storage virtualization.
Similar to storage virtualization that virtualizes the storage, memory virtualization combines the physical memory of different servers into a central virtualized memory pool. This repository of memory enables a vast contiguous working memory. A typical example is the Microsoft Windows OS on your device that allocates a part of your storage disk to function as an extension of your RAM. There are several types of memory virtualization, where some allow direct application access to the memory pool while others allow access via an OS.
Data virtualization aggregates the data without changing the original data for quick and seamless access from any user device. The user does not even need to know where it is stored or what format. As data becomes abstract, this enables easy manipulation of data, independent of data structure, format or database systems. Companies deploy data virtualization where massive and disparate data is ingested for averting data input and format errors.
As we have seen above, virtualization in cloud computing is possible through different technologies and software. Virtualization allows outsourcing of your hardware to cut down energy and infrastructure costs. As cloud computing technology is known for efficiency, security, scalability, remote access and cost advantages, the cloud or IT professional must know the types of virtualization the company needs.