A Rundown of Server Virtualization Technology
By Jen Kelly
Computers have come a long way over the years, but this isn’t always so obvious when it comes to servers. Servers are computers that host information for other computers on a network. They have a lot of processing potential. A lot of power. And yet most physical servers–also called hosts–fail to tap into that power. That’s because each physical server needs its own operating system and is usually assigned a single task. The server’s processing potential is wasted. But there is a solution to this: server virtualization technology.
What is Server Virtualization Technology?
Virtualization takes something real and makes a virtual version of it. Server virtualization takes a physical server and makes it into several virtual servers, or guests. These virtual servers are capable of running their own operating systems, all on a single physical server. A huge benefit of server virtualization is that it lets you fully take advantage of your computer’s processing power. You can use your computer to its full potential. Instead of having 15 servers at low capacity, you can have 4 or less at nearly full capacity. There are 3 popular methods of server virtualization:
The purpose of full virtualization is to allow for more than one operating system to coexist on a single computer. Full virtualization does this by using a software called a hypervisor to play the role of computer hardware. The hypervisor emulates the whole computer. Any communication between a virtual server and the physical server is intercepted and transferred by the hypervisor. It tricks the virtual servers into thinking that it’s real hardware, so the virtual servers are never aware of the physical server’s operating system. As far as each virtual server is concerned, it’s the only server in existence.
As with full virtualization, paravirtualization uses a hypervisor to run multiple operating systems on a single computer. In paravirtualization, however, the hypervisor is less deceitful and doesn’t try to keep the virtual servers unaware of each other. Instead, the whole server works together as one. And instead of the full scale emulation that full virtualization brings to the table, paravirtualization uses a modified operating system that has been adapted to work with virtual servers. Because paravirtualization doesn’t emulate the whole system, operating systems will usually achieve better performances.
Operating System Virtualization
Unlike full virtualization and paravirtualization, operating system virtualization does not use a hypervisor. Instead, all of the duties of a hypervisor are given to the actual physical server’s operating system. The virtual servers are aware of each other, but have to work alone. In order for operating system virtualization to work, all the virtual servers have to run the same operating system as the host. Because of this, less strain is put on the physical server.
There are a lot of reasons why people take up server virtualization technology. By turning a physical server into several virtual servers, you can truly savor the processing power your computer has to offer. You can also prevent applications from harming each other during an upgrade and save yourself a good deal of money on hardware costs. These are just a few of the reasons why you should consider investing in server virtualization technology.