Virtual Machines, or VMs as they are better known, paved the way for many advanced technologies that we see around us today. The idea of having operating systems and software run virtually, without the presence of a physical computer system, started in VMs and later was adapted to create various technologies. Cloud environments, microservices, edge computing, etc., all sprouted from the concept behind virtual machines.
What are Virtual Machines?
As the name suggests, virtual machines function without the presence of a physical computer component. VMs are essentially software that runs tasks, applications, and programs without an actual machine present.
It is to be noted that VMs are tied to a physical host. One or more VMs can run on the same physical host and share resources such as memory, bandwidth, CPU cycles, etc.
Virtual machines have gained prominence in the tech world over the past decade and a half. But they have been around for longer. The origin of VMs can be traced back to the 60s even, in the early days of computing, when there was a separation of software from the physical system with time-sharing. In recent years, when companies began adopting server virtualization to make their servers work more efficiently, VMs started seeing rapid growth in technology and attributes.
There are two types of virtual machines - Process VMs and System VMs. Process VMs are used in the separation of a single process. System VMs allow the OS and applications to be fully separated from the physical host.
Benefits of Virtual Machines
The biggest advantage of having virtual machines is that it is separate from the host computer. Users can run multiple operating system instances on a single host system because of this. Hence, VMs saves valuable time, money, space, and other resources for companies.
Virtual machines are also able to back legacy apps. This reduces or eliminates the need and cost of migrating older apps into a different or updated OS.
Another benefit of VMs is regarding testing applications. Developers utilize virtual machines because they provide secure, sandboxed environments ideal for testing. Such an environment also helps in detection, isolation, and reducing the spread of malware.
Virtual machines come with few challenges, but the advantages mostly outweigh them. There must be adequate infrastructure support in place if multiple VMs are hosted in the same physical host. Otherwise, there could be performance and stability issues in the system. When compared to a physical computer, this can be seen as less efficient. This is the reason why most organizations opt for an ideal balance between their virtual and physical systems.
Applications - Containers, Edge Computing, and More
Many outcomes followed the growth of VMs. Containers are probably the most popular among them. The technology takes virtualization a step further and is widely used and appreciated by developers of web applications. Containers have lesser overheads than virtual machines and only consists of binaries, applications, and libraries. In such a setting, it is possible to virtualize a single application and its dependencies.
VMs also provide the base for technologies such as edge computing and 5G. With the current pandemic situation, many companies use the extended possibilities of edge computing in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), making work from home easier for their employees.
While server virtualization remains at the forefront of VM usage, the tech community is also constantly exploring and applying the applications to other avenues such as networking, storage, etc.
Even with all the technological advances surrounding it, VMs still have a strong presence in the industry as a foundational concept and are expected to be resilient and grow steadily.
Many enterprises are adopting virtual machine environments to provide better performance for users. We at VEXXHOST offer you high-performance public cloud, private cloud, and other solutions. Learn all about VEXXHOST's Virtual Machines.
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