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Virtualization is creating a virtual, rather than actual version of something, such as a desktop or applications. It is basically the breaking down of a computer and its resources under a specific network or server and makes the specific resource accessible under the network or server.

Types of Virtualization

Virtualization can be broken down into many types: desktop virtualization, platform virtualization, application virtualization, and resource virtualization. Resource virtualization in respect can also be broken down and include different forms: storage virtualization, network virtualization, and memory virtualization.

Desktop Virtualization
Desktop virtualization, which can also be called server virtualization or system virtualization, was introduced in the 1990s. It is a relatively new innovation of virtualization that uses the primary idea of dividing something up creating a virtual rather than actual version of it. Specifically, in desktop virtualization the desktop is virtualized, being stored on something such as a remote central server instead of on a local computer. Having it stored on a remote central server instead of localizing it makes the desktop accessible anywhere. Users can work on their own desktop, using their own programs, applications, and accessing their own files while being away from the actual desktop. Users can access this from a computer anywhere, such as at work.

Platform Virtualization
Platform virtualization is the virtualization of machines through the use of a server platform by a control program. This type of virtualization becomes its own type of computing platform, thus making this type of virtualization called platform virtualization. Platform virtualization emulates a computing platform without actually having a physical computer platform that would normally run the operating systems and software written for the computing platform. Platform virtualization typically runs from a large physical server that hosts many virtual machines that are accessible by guests.

Application Virtualization
Application virtualization is virtualization of applications, allowing these applications to be executed on as if it was being executed under the specific operating system it was written to execute under. This type of virtualization only virtualizes specific applications rather than virtualize something like an operating system that the applications would run on. By virtualizing applications, this allows the applications to run under different operating systems that it was not originally written or meant to run under. For instance a user can run an application written for a Windows operating system under a Mac or Linux operating system.

Resource Virtualization
Resource virtualization is the virtualization of specific system resources such as storage virtualization, network virtualization, and memory virtualization.

  • Storage virtualization: Mapping a virtual data storage space to an actual physical location. An example of this is disk partitioning.
  • Network virtualization: Creating or combining many networks into a virtual network splitting up available bandwidth to a specific server.
  • Memory virtualization: Separates Random Access Memory (RAM) from networked systems and then combines them to be accessible to anyone in the network.

Benefits of Virtualization

In all aspects of virtualization, the point of virtualizing a network, system, or anything in particular is to help reduce overall costs. Another benefit of virtualizing regardless of type is that virtualizing hides the complexities and complicatedness of the actual server, network, or resource and making it manageable to the layman.

In regards to specific types of virtualization, desktop virtualization can help the environment. According to Wikipedia, it can save up to three times as much power and energy when using desktop virtualization instead of traditional PCs.  Also, under desktop virtualization, it is almost like having a backup because the files and applications are stored under a server and not a specific device, so if something happens to a the specific device, the files and applications will not be lost.

Application virtualization as stated previously allows applications to be run through a different operating system that it was not originally written for. Application virtualization can also run applications that may not be correctly written, which could be a great tool for testing a beta version of an application.

External Links

Network World

Timeline of Virtualization


Virtualization Admin (articles & tutorials about Virtualization)



Desktop Virtualization

Platform Virtualization

Application Virtualization

Storage Virtualization

Network Virtualization

Memory Virtualization