How useful is virtualization in cloud computing

Virtualization: Basics & advantages of an efficient use of IT resources

Often the performance of computers is not fully utilized and valuable resources are wasted. Virtualization solves the problem in that the technology distributes the existing capacities in the best possible way to virtually created work environments such as hardware, software, operating systems or network resources. The result: more efficiency, higher security, less complexity and lower costs. Virtualization is therefore an important part of current IT development today and in the server and storage area it is even a prerequisite for inexpensive cloud offers. Server, client and application virtualizations are often used to reduce costs and administration effort.

In the context of cloud services and in the hosting area, private users, SMEs and large companies also benefit from the advantages. You can find out more about the exciting concept here and in detail in the following articles!

The definition

The replication of a software or hardware object by creating an abstraction layer is called virtualization. IT resources such as software, hardware, network components and storage are virtualized. The virtual systems are called “guest systems” and the physical system is called “host”.

How does virtualization work?

Virtualization and the simple explanation using the example of computers: A physical computer provides the resources for one or more virtual computers. These virtual machines use the hardware of the physical machine. The administrator decides how much memory and processor performance are proportionally available on the devices. In this way, IT resources can be distributed as required and used efficiently.

The advantages

The many advantages make virtualization a more central part of the IT infrastructure today:

  • Optimize hardware utilization: Several virtual machines (VMs) share the existing hardware, which improves the processor utilization and enables the effective division of the storage media. The alternative to virtual machines is that Container virtualization with its own advantages. Virtualization is the standard for cloud computing and the provision of resources in data centers.
  • Save energy: Working with virtual machines contributes to greener IT, as the effective operation of physical servers reduces power consumption.
  • reduce costs: Fewer physical systems are required - power consumption drops, which saves costs.
  • Less space required: Less floor space is required for racks and cabling, the free space can be used for other purposes.
  • security: With virtualization, applications can run on two physically separate servers. If there is a problem on one server, the application continues to run on the other server. With hardware virtualization, every guest system exists in a virtual environment; hackers generally cannot influence other guest systems on the same host. The environment of the VM is isolated from the rest of the system; an infected VM does not affect the entire system.
  • Flexible remote access: Server administrators can remotely access the servers and optimize settings.

The disadvantages

Like any technology, virtualization also has disadvantages:

  • High performance required: In order to run many guest systems on a host, it must provide sufficient performance.
  • Total failure possible: If the physical host system fails, all VMs fail and appropriate protection is necessary.
  • Licensing: There can be problems with software licenses, because legally VM counts as independent computers.

The different technologies & approaches

The development began with the virtualization of servers in data centers and has long existed in desktop, network and storage systems. The techniques for virtualizing servers, operating systems, and other components differ from one another. Therefore, the types of virtualization are recommended for different applications and users.

Virtualization in the hosting area

Thanks to virtualization technologies, private individuals and SMEs can book high-performance hosting solutions from web hosting providers and adapt them to their individual needs without having to invest in hardware. Dedicated servers can be adapted to individual requirements so that users can deliver resource-intensive web applications at high speed. They are suitable for demanding web applications with large amounts of data (big data), machine learning, live streaming, website hosting and the virtualization of IT infrastructure.

Virtual Private Server (VPS)

In the past, virtual private servers (VPS) were an inexpensive and limited alternative to root servers and dedicated servers. In the meantime, VPS on an operating system kernel-based virtual machine (kernel-based virtual machine (KVM)) offer full virtualization with more performance and flexibility. The ultra-fast virtual private servers are suitable, among other things, for content management systems such as WordPress, as a mail server and cloud storage via Docker and container virtualization development environments can easily be set up on a VPS. Powerful server options with isolated resources secure the execution of business-critical applications with minimal latency and maximum online server availability.

Bare metal server

Bare metal servers are ideal for full control over the server. Users get root and admin permissions and control all settings down to the kernel - the central component of an operating system.

One example of this is the Host Europe root server. Find out more about the hosting solution with dedicated resources and the convenience of a virtual solution

Server virtualization

When it comes to virtualization, it is often about sophisticated server virtualization. Several virtual instances (virtual servers) run side by side on a high-performance server and share resources such as storage space and processor performance. Various software and hardware technologies are used. The provision of the virtual resources can be adjusted.

Dedicated servers are an excellent platform for this. More information can be found here.

Software virtualization

The virtualization of software removes programs from the operating system - that means: Virtualized applications do not have to be installed on the computer and can be executed directly. Software virtualization enables applications to be run on actually incompatible operating systems. Another advantage is the so-called "sandboxing", which many virtualization solutions use. Program changes are written to a virtual file system - this avoids damage caused by malware and conflicts with other applications, for example. As part of operating system virtualization, Windows 10, Linux Mint and macOS, for example, run simultaneously on one computer.

Hardware virtualization

You can use virtualization software to create multiple virtual machines (VMs) on your computer that share the existing hardware resources. In this way, for example, a different Linux distribution can be installed in each VM and tested extensively. The virtual machines are suitable, among other things, as test environments for trying out other operating systems, as backup solutions in the form of a snapshot of the guest system and for testing software for developers.

In the article Activate virtualization: Windows, macOS & LinuxLearn how to activate virtualization in the BIOS under Windows and in the macOS and Linux operating systems.

Network virtualization

This form of virtualization combines the network resources and divides the bandwidth into independent and secured channels. These can be assigned to specific servers and devices. Administrators benefit from more flexibility, reliability and scalability.

Desktop virtualization

Instead of providing individual desktop environments on many computers, central provision via desktop virtualization over a network is possible. The two forms run the operating system either locally or remotely. In this way, local computers can be replaced by virtual machines and hardware resources can be used more efficiently.

Computer virtualization

As part of the virtualization of a computer, the entire system can be backed up and started on another. In this way, private individuals can, for example, back up their old PC and start the virtual machine on a new computer. That way, every file and email is secured.

Operating system virtualization

This form uses the functions of the operating system. Users can create several user accounts, log in with them and only access the individual data.

Storage virtualization

Here, several physical network storage systems are combined. For the user there is only one central data storage known as a storage pool. Storage virtualization facilitates tasks such as data backups, archiving and restoration.


Cover image: Photo by Ian Battaglia on Unsplash

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