In computing, virtualisation means to create a virtual version of a device or resource, such as a server, storage device, network or even an operating system where the framework divides the resource into one or more execution environments. Even something as simple as partitioning a hard drive is considered virtualisation because you take one drive and partition it to create two separate hard drives.
Devices, applications and human users are able to interact with the virtual resource as if it were a real single logical resource. The term virtualisation has become somewhat of a buzzword, and as a result the term is now associated with a number of computing technologies including the following :
- storage virtualisation: the amalgamation of multiple network storage devices into what appears to be a single storage unit.
- server virtualisation: the partitioning a physical server into smaller virtual servers.
- operating system-level virtualisation: a type of server virtualisation technology which works at the operating system (kernel) layer.
- network virtualisation: using network resources through a logical segmentation of a single physical network.
- application virtualisation.
Personally, I use a Linux operating system but still need to use programmes like Photoshop occasionally. I use VirtualBox to create a virtual Windows operating system I can start and stop at will. It opens in a new window and so switching between operating systems is as simple as changing windows. VERY handy!!
File storage on one of my systems is a Western Digital MyBook Live – 2 drives in one case, attached to the network and accessible by all computers on the network. More virtualisation!.
Virtualisation is an extremely cost efficient way of sharing resources. Coupled with cloud technologies, it allows anyone to operate a very sophisticated and responsive enterprise on a low budget.