The concept of virtual computing can be confusing and often daunting unless properly understood. One way to understand this concept is to imagine a scenario. Click the headings to expand more info:
Imagine a server room that has multiple physical server boxes all sitting together. Each server has a specific function to fulfill and will have an operating system (OS) running on it (think Microsoft® Windows, RedHat® Linux or Mac® OS X Server)
Now imagine you could turn each of those physical servers into a single software file, which could all be opened from just one server.
This is essentially what virtualisation is, it creates 'virtual' computers which behave like real ones.
So, if you've got the concept down you might be interested in how the magic really happens.
Basically, a server will have a special piece of software on it that talks to the actual physical hardware it is installed on (called a hypervisor).
It then is able to create a set of 'pretend' or 'virtual' pieces of hardware inside itself which behave as if they were a real physical machine.
The operating systems which would normally go straight on to a piece of hardware are installed inside these 'virtual' machines, but as far as the OS is concerned it has been installed on a real machine.
So one physical server can now do the work of many physical servers, using only a fraction of the power they would if they were all physical machines.
Space - Instead of taking up a whole rack or a room full of machines, there is now one box to do the same job
Cost - Replacing many machines with one saves loads of money on hardware, power and maintenance
Administration - Backups and maintenance of the entire server is now a matter of dealing with one software file per virtual machine
Flexibility - Because each machine is a software file, it can easily be moved to another physical machine running the same hypervisor with minimal fuss, remember the operating system still thinks it is running on the same hardware no matter what physical hardware has actually changed
Now imagine you combined the solution of virtualisation with thin/zero client computing, the potential savings of time and money could be enormous!
When your business is next due for an upgrade, think about whether virtualisation may be right for you