Virtualization

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Quick glossary: Virtualization

Originally Published:
Sep 2016

By reducing expensive hardware requirements and maximizing capacity, virtualization has dramatically changed enterprise IT. This list offers 20 virtualization terms and concepts that will give you a basic foundation on the technology.

From the glossary:
Perhaps no innovation in information technology history has saved more money for more enterprises than virtualization, yet the technology goes mostly unheralded and underappreciated. By reducing the need for purchasing additional and ever more expensive hardware—and at the same time, maximizing the capacity of whatever hardware is available—virtualization has truly changed the way information technology is deployed at both the enterprise and the consumer level.

Without the scaling capabilities of virtualization, many of the cloud-based services we take for granted today would be nearly impossible, or at least cost prohibitive, to achieve. Without virtualization there might not be an Amazon, Google, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Spotify. So it’s important to know and understand the terminology and the technology behind virtualization, if for no other reason than to see how information technology is implemented and deployed in today’s world. Here are 20 virtualization terms and concepts that will give you a basic foundation on the technology and how it works.

Application virtualization
Software technology that allows an application to run in a virtualized environment separate from the underlying operating system. Applications running on a virtual machine can be isolated from the rest of the system. From the application’s perspective, it is running as if it’s installed on the actual operating system.

Desktop virtualization
Refers to a virtual machine that is running a desktop operating system, like Windows, Mac OS, or a version of Linux.

Failover
In virtualization terms, failover allows the virtual machine to continue operation if the host fails. The virtual machine continues operation from the last-known coherent state, rather than the current state.

Guest operating system
The operating system installed on a virtual machine. This is the operating system a user can see and work with, while the operating system hosting the virtual machine could be entirely different.

Host machine
The hardware, or potentially another virtual machine, running the operating system that supports the primary virtual machine.

Hypervisor
The thin layer of operational software that provides the supporting infrastructure for virtualization. This software allows the virtual machine to communicate with the host hardware and any connected peripherals, such as printers, storage devices, and networks.

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