First thoughts on hardware virtualization

Originally written on Tuesday 20/07/2010

Today, I had my first direct experience with the term virtualisation – note my choice of words.
I am certain I have had many indirect ones and in most cases the term virtual/virtualization did not count or I was not aware of my interactions with virtual machines.

I equipped my Windows machine with Oracle’s Virtual Box (free to download and use on several platforms, including windows, Mac OS, and Linux distributions)  – which runs open source hypervisors and allows me create as many virtual machines (VM) as I chose on my single processor Toshiba PC.  Another good thing is: I never have to shut down and reboot to use any of the VMs.Thus rather than buying a new hardware to pursue my leanings towards other operating systems and not wanting the pains of dual/multi booting, I simply created a virtual machine and installed my RedHat Enterprise Linux OS (oh my God, how much money did I save?).

Each machine behaved independent of each other and was fully functional –behaved natively.
The only catch is that hardware resources were shared by each running machine and it is pertinent to meet the minimum requirements of each operating system before creating  your VMs.

What I mean is this – Windows Vista requires a minimum of  1Ghz processor, 1Gb Ram and 40Gb of Hard disks space to run – you must be able to provide this resources for a windows Vista virtual machine in your virtualized environment otherwise, the VM will not run.

What then are the benefits of hardware virtualization?:
(1) run as many VMs from a single box – provided you meet the minimum requirement of each
(2) VMs can run simultaneously and independent of each other whilst sharing hardware resources – again you must ensure the hardware meets the sum minimum requirement for each VM
(3) VMs can share the same physical resources – CD/DVD ROMS, processor power, electric power, printers and peripherals etc.
(4) Each virtual machine can run dedicated processes for which you require a dedicated system whilst you do not expend additional costs in acquiring additional dedicated software.

Perhaps now, the term virtualization (desktop, Server etc.) makes a lot more sense and puts cloud computing in a better perspective  for me (may be you too 🙂 )

Note: Pardon my use of ‘s’ and ‘z’ interchangeably – most times, I cannot tell apart the differences between American and British English  🙂



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