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12th October: Virtual Machines vs Physical Machines Read more

Virtual Machines vs Physical Machines

12th October 2020

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What is a Virtual Machine?

A virtual machine is, essentially, a computer that is encompassed in software. With today’s hardware, you can run multiple virtual machines on most computers. Imagine running Windows 10 and Linux on your computer at the same time. Each operating system acts like its own computer. Apple iMacs, with additional software, can run Windows 10 and Windows applications whilst running MacOS.

Businesses have been migrating servers to virtual machines for some time. This allows for a more efficient use of the server hardware, reducing overall operational costs by having less hardware in total, consuming less power and occupying less physical room.

High performance and flexibility with virtual machines
Virtual machines can be highly customisable, high performance and easier to manage.

Benefits of using virtual machines compared to a physical machine

Virtual machines can seamlessly be moved between different hosts while the virtual machine is running. Since virtual machines are simply a set of files on shared storage rather than a set of physical hardware, this allows easy mobility and changing of their compute/memory ownership. They can also be spread over multiple machines in-case of server failure. With a redundant failover, if a server goes offline the backup server can keep going and keep the virtual server running, with minimal impact to business continuity.

The main advantages of virtual machines:

  • Multiple OS environments can exist simultaneously on the same machine, isolated from each other
  • Virtual machine can offer an instruction set architecture that differs from real computers
  • Easy maintenance, application provisioning, availability and convenient recovery
  • Easily managed backups and snapshots
  • Reduction of operational costs due to reduced physical hardware requirements
  • Combine a virtual terminal server with thin clients to reduce the hardware requirements for your staff

What is the difference between a physical and virtual server?

While a physical server is a single-tenant platform with dedicated resources, a hypervisor (host) can support multiple virtual servers, allowing multiple applications to run simultaneously and share physical hardware capacity amongst themselves. Instead of having a terminal server, database server and file server running on different physical machines, you could virtualize them and have them all running on the same physical hypervisor.

Why would you use a virtual machine?

There are many reasons why your company might consider using virtual machines. VMs allow for reduced overhead, with multiple systems operating from the same console at the same time. VMs also provide a safety net for your data, as they can be used to enable rapid disaster recovery and automatic backups. They can also be useful for development and testing, as you can replicate the current state of machines, and quickly provision new machines. Adding new virtual machines for new staff can be done quickly and effectively. Staff or students working remotely from home could access the virtual machines from their existing laptops or desktops, reducing the required overheads for hardware in your organization or school.

Virtual machines for educational applications
Virtual desktops can have great practical applications for students, facilitating in-person and remote learning without disadvantages

What's the difference between cloud
and virtualization?

It can be hard to see the difference between cloud and virtualization. Virtualization is a technology to create simulated environments from a set of physical hardware, whereas a cloud is an environment that pools and shares scalable resources (such as storage).

How does virtualization benefit
a business?

The biggest benefit of virtualization is lower infrastructure costs. From virtualizing user desktops all the way up to servers, virtual machines can significantly reduce your financial outlay for hardware.

Virtualization helps companies achieve faster and easier backup and recovery of key application workloads and data. It also enables you to more cost- effectively switch to a secondary IT site and restore critical business operations. Additionally, you can easily expand your user base and servers without having to purchase dedicated machines for each change.

Contact us today to find out what advantages there are to your business when you switch to virtualised desktops.

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