What Is a Virtual Machine, in Simple Terms? Beginner Guide

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what is virtual machine

A virtual machine, sometimes abbreviated as VM, is an actual computer like a laptop, smartphone, or server.

It is connected with a CPU, RAM, drives for file storage, and, if necessary, an internet connection.

According to Statista – The percentage of physical-only servers dropped from 57.2 percent in the year to June 2018 to 55.6 percent in 2019.

What Exactly is a Virtual Machine?

The term “virtual machine” (VM) refers to a virtual environment that functions like a computer inside a computer.

A virtual machine utilizes its own CPU power, memory, operating system (such as Windows, Linux, or macOS), and other resources while running on a separate partition of the host machine. End users utilize apps running in virtual machines (VMs) just like they would on their desktops.

To execute applications and run programs, a virtual machine (VM) employs software. On a physical “host” system, one or more virtual “guest” machines are active.

Each virtual machine has its own operating system and functions independently of the others, even though they are all running on the same host.

What purposes serve virtual machines?

One of the main benefits of using VMs is server consolidation. When deployed on bare metal, the majority of operating system and application deployments only utilize a small portion of the physical resources available. 

By virtualizing the servers, one may increase hardware usage by packing several virtual machines onto one physical server.

VMware virtual machines offer more options for disaster recovery by offering failover and redundancy that were previously only achievable through new hardware.

Related: What is Server Consolidation in Overview?

How are virtual machines operated?

The use of several virtual machines on a single machine is made possible by virtualization technology. The hardware is managed by the hypervisor, which also divides physical resources from virtual environments. 

The hypervisor schedules a request to the physical system’s resources when the VM is running and a user or program requests additional resources from the physical environment so that the operating system and programs of the virtual machine have access to the shared set of physical resources.

The Benefits of Virtual Machines

Virtual machines provide a number of benefits over real machines and are simple to administer and maintain.

  • On a single physical machine, VMs may run several operating system environments, reducing space, time, and administrative expenses.
  • Virtual machines reduce the expense of transitioning to a new operating system by maintaining old programs. For instance, on a host server that is running a non-Linux operating system, such as Windows, a Linux virtual machine that runs a distribution of Linux as the guest operating system is possible.
  • Integrated options for disaster recovery and application provisioning can also be offered by VMs.

The Virtual Machines’ Drawbacks

Compared to actual computers, virtual machines provide a number of advantages, but there are also some drawbacks:

  • With infrastructure criteria not met, steady performance may be experienced when running several virtual machines on one real computer.
  • Compared to full hardware computer, virtual machines are less effective and operate more slowly.

The Two Kinds of Virtual Machines

Process VMs and System VMs are the two types of virtual machines that users may select from

  • A process virtual machine, which hides details of the underlying hardware or operating system, enables a single process to execute as an application on a host machine, providing a platform-independent development environment. The Java Virtual Machine, which enables any operating system to run Java programs as if they were native to that system, is an illustration of a process VM.
  • To replace a physical machine, a system virtual machine is fully virtualized. A system platform allows several virtual machines, each running a separate copy of the operating system, to share the physical resources of a host computer. This virtualization process depends on a hypervisor, which may function either on top of an operating system or on bare hardware, like VMware ESXi.

What Five Forms of Virtualization Are There?

All components of a conventional data center or IT infrastructure may be virtualized with the use of numerous specific kinds of virtual machines:

1. Hardware virtualization

When a piece of hardware is virtualized, many operating systems and computer systems are combined into one main physical server. To manage the VMs, a hypervisor interacts directly with the CPU and storage space of a physical server.

2. Software virtualization

A computer system with hardware is built using VM software virtualization enables the operation of one or more guest operating systems on a physical host machine. 

3. Virtualizing storage

involves combining several physical storage devices into one that appears to be a single storage unit. Benefits include improved speed and performance, load balancing, and cost savings.

4. Network virtualization

On the same physical network, several sub-networks may be created by combining equipment into a single software-based virtual network resource.

A further benefit of network virtualization is that it divides available bandwidth into a number of distinct channels that may each be quickly assigned to hardware such as virtual machines.

5. Desktop virtualization

This popular form of virtualization saves a desktop on a remote server, separating the desktop environment from the actual device and enabling users to view their desktops from any location using any device.

Virtual Machine vs Container

Container – Container technology, like Kubernetes, is comparable to virtual machines in that it allows for the execution of separate applications on a single platform. The hardware layer is virtualized using VMs to produce a “computer,” whilst apps and their dependencies are packaged in containers. 

Virtual machine – Compared to containers, virtual machines are bigger and take longer to boot. They provide the advantages of a totally independent operating system since they are conceptually isolated from one another and have their own operating system kernel. 

Anything running within a VM won’t interact with anything else on the host hardware since a VM offers an environment that is separated from the rest of the system.

Businesses may significantly reduce the footprint of their physical infrastructure and save money by operating several virtual machines from a single piece of gear.

Service providers like Exabytes take all care of VMware Virtual Machine setup for businesses with 24x7x365 tech support.

Contact an Exabytes professional to know more.

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