Hybrid work cultures may become standard for many companies, including yours. Now is the time to plan for dynamic technology that benefits your business processes. In this article, we shall walk you through different aspects of virtual computing and enable you to make an informed decision.
What is virtual computing?
Max works as an accountant in a real estate firm and needs to access the organization’s accounting software while working from home. There was a time when this could sound absurd. But the ascent of virtual computing has made it possible to remotely access computers and software applications without any physical interaction with them.
Virtual computing or virtualization is when the user substitutes an actual version of something with a virtual kind. It can be anything from an operating system, a storage device, a server to a network resource. The remote user can perform an intended job simply via logging into a virtual server through a stable internet connection. Furthermore, virtual computing enables the efficient use of physical hardware.
Now let’s dig deep to see how virtual computing works.
How does virtual computing work?
An indispensable element of the virtual computing system is the hypervisor, also known as the virtual machine monitor (VMM).
It is a piece of software that breaks down the resources, such as CPU, RAM, etc., of a host computer and distributes them amongst several virtual machines. A traditional computing system as it optimizes the utilization of resources.
Traditional architecture v/s Virtual architecture
There are essentially two ways in which the virtualization process works. In Type 1, the hypervisor lies atop the hardware layer and emulates the underlying device. It splits the physical resources, and multiple virtual machines use these in a virtual setup. The Type 1 hypervisor is also known as Bare Metal Hypervisor.
Virtualization through Type 1 or Bare Metal Hypervisor
Then there comes the Type 2 or hosted hypervisor. Here, the hypervisor runs on an operating system or is directly installed within the hardware. The guest operating systems works on top of the hypervisor. Most organizations opt for this technique during virtualization, and it is also a common method of desktop virtualization.
Virtualization through Type 2 or Hosted Hypervisor
Types of virtual computing:
Virtualization is an umbrella term that covers various other kinds of virtualization. It is possible to integrate an array of IT elements into the virtual computing ecosystem. Here is a list of the most common cases:
- Desktop virtualization: Here, the user can access a workstation through a remote device, such as their home computers, tablets, or smartphones.
- Server virtualization: A physical server is split into multiple virtual servers that possess all the functionalities of the original server. The virtual servers do not require their own resources.
- Storage virtualization: Physical storage is pooled from numerous network storage devices to create a single virtual storage unit. Easy back-up and data recovery processes.
- Data virtualization: It creates a decentralized data warehouse that allows organizations to access data from various data points.
- Application virtualization: In this kind of virtualization, the user is working on a software application virtually, without installing it on the native device. Ceedo, an Israeli cybersecurity company, uses this technique.
What are the pros of virtual computing?
Modern business organizations are striving to boost scalability while lowering costs. Technologies like virtual computing or virtualization have made it convenient for businesses. To focus on growth while automating their processes and optimizing resource utilization. Here, we have listed down the top benefits of virtual computing:
- Virtual computing is cost-effective: Most businesses struggle to reduce their costs while opting for efficient options. Virtual computing is an effective way of lowering the capital, energy, and operational expenses of a business. When an organization chooses virtualization, it automatically eliminates the cost of purchasing several pieces of hardware. Since the number of hardware goes down, so do the maintenance and energy consumption costs.
- Brings down workload: Businesses while opting for virtual computing, often outsource the installation and updating functions to a third-party provider. It saves the time and effort of the in-house IT professionals who can concentrate on other operations.
- Prompt disaster recovery: In case of an error or malfunction in a physical server, it can take several days to retrieve it. Contrarily, the recovery process is much faster in case of any disaster in the virtual server. One can merely use and deploy the backup files to resume operations.
- Reduces energy consumption: When physical servers are replaced with virtual servers, the organization’s energy consumption goes down, making it more eco-friendly.
- Boost digital entrepreneurship: There was a time when digital entrepreneurship was a far-fetched concept. However, virtual computing has made it easier for an average individual to start a side-hustle by offering more operational flexibility, a multitude of platforms, several storage options, etc.
- Utilizes lesser space: Physical hardware occupies a large amount of space during installation. Nevertheless, one of the upsides of virtual computing is that it does not require extensive space while emulating a physical server and other system capabilities.
What are the cons of virtual computing?
Every technology comes with its own set of disadvantages. Although virtualization can benefit organizations in different ways, here is a list of cons of virtual computing:
- High implementation costs: Even though virtual computing reduces cost in the long run, initially, it can be a pricey affair. Virtualization involves a one-time but high upfront installation cost of the server. Sometimes, the cost of acquiring compatible hardware and software can also increase expenditures.
- Unavailability issues: When a server controlled by a third-party provider is out of order, the organization will be unable to access its crucial data. If such circumstances persist for a long time, it can hamper the operations and lead to losses.
- Incompatible servers and applications: Businesses can use multiple applications that may not be virtualization friendly. Such applications, therefore, cannot be integrated within the new system. Again, they may have invested in an incompatible server that hinders the virtualization process.
- Asynchronous links: All the components within the virtual computing system must be in sync for it to perform the desired job. It includes the LAN or Wifi networks, ISP connections, online storage options, etc. If either of these does not work, then the user cannot complete the intended task.
- Data breach risks: Today, the corporate world is data-driven, where organizations are aiming to extract actionable insights from heaps of business data. An unsecured virtual computing system exposes sensitive data to hackers and jeopardizes organizational growth.
- Hidden training costs: During the virtualization process many organizations encounter the need for a network administrator. Therefore, they have to find and bear the cost of training an adept individual who can handle the virtual computing ecosystem. In the case of a hospital, the management has to provide extensive training to all the medical professionals and administrative teams.
What would you need to get started?
It can be overwhelming if you try to get started with the virtual computing journey all by yourself. Hence, it is a good idea to reach out to experts. Today many third-party virtual computing providers are available who offer services like installing, maintaining, and updating the virtual computing system.
The four big players in the virtualization game are IBM, Microsoft, HP, and Sun Management. They all provide similar services, which include troubleshooting, problem-solving, hardware and software management, upgradations and monitoring, system security tools, etc. However, the system configurations may vary for each provider, and that brings us to our next concern.
Mismatched hardware and software devices can hamper the virtual computing process. Before you invest in any virtual applications, it is imperative to check the system requirements.
For instance, for smooth functioning of Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 a virtual PC application by Microsoft, you would need the following Windows Operating Systems:
- Windows XP Professional
- Windows Vista Enterprise
It can also run-on other Windows OS such as Windows 2000 or Windows 98. Nonetheless, these would need more memory. Additionally, it also demands a disk space of 20 MB and a 400MHz Pentium compatible processor.
The systems requirements will be different for each application.
Virtual computing plays a crucial role in the digital workspace. Although it has been around for a long time, it has recently come of age. Considering the fast-changing work culture, virtualization will remain popular for years to come as IT experts keep on exploring its unique possibilities.
Like most technologies, this system is also flawed. However, its advantages outrank the disadvantages. Today’s tech-driven corporate world is pushing businesses to embrace new technology every day, and virtual computing is definitely at the top of the list.