The term “virtualization” has been generating some buzz in the technology community as IT professionals look for ways to maximize their resources. But what exactly is virtualization? And how can it benefit your business? This blog post breaks down the history and functionality of virtualization.
What is virtualization?
Virtualization refers to the technologies designed to provide a layer of abstraction between computer hardware systems and the software running on them. Since virtualization provides a logical view of computing resources instead of a physical view, it provides you with the capability to trick your operating systems into thinking that a group of servers is a single pool of computing resources. Virtualization also allows for you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on a single machine.
At its roots, virtualization is essentially partitioning, which divides a single physical server into multiple logical servers. Once the physical server has been divided, each logical server can run an operating system and applications independently.
Historically, virtualization has been around for several years. It was first used in the 1960’s as a way to partition large mainframe hardware. Back then, engineers faced the same problems that are faced today, such as too many underutilized servers. The team at IBM pioneered virtualization by providing the capability for engineers to partition mainframes, allowing tasks to multitask.
After the popularity of virtualization faded for a long period of time, it experienced a rebirth in the 1990s. Server virtualization on the Intel based x86 platform was invented in the 90s primarily by VMware. Since then, many other companies have entered into the x86 hardware and software virtualization market, but it was VMware that developed the first hypervisor for the x86 architecture, planting the seeds for the recent virtualization boom.
So what exactly is x86? It’s the generic name for Intel processors released after the original 8086 processor. The “x” in x86 stands for a range of possible numbers. If a computer’s technical specifications state that it’s based on the x86 architecture, it means that it uses an Intel processor, not AMD or PowerPC.
One of the aspects driving the increased popularity of virtualization is the shrinking availability of data center space. Many companies are also using virtualization as a money-saving initiative. By reducing the numbers and types of servers that support business applications, companies are looking at a significant cost savings.
Next week, we will discuss the benefits and features of virtualization.
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Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung