How server virtualization works: A beginner’s guide
Server virtualization helps businesses virtualize and simplify their entire IT infrastructure. Since it facilitates organizations to make the best use of their technology investment and reduces the cost of business operations, it is becoming mainstream for businesses. This article discusses server virtualization and how it works for businesses.
An Overview of Server Virtualization
- It is the process in which existing servers are divided into multiple isolated servers by utilizing virtualization hardware or software. Thereby eliminating the need for a new server. Each of these servers operates on its own.
A server generally performs a single task or application because it employs only one operating system. For this reason, many of the server potentials remain unutilized. However, with server virtualization, multiple operating systems can be run simultaneously on isolated servers. Thus multiple tasks can be performed at one time.
How Does It Work?
- To begin creating virtual server instances, it is essential to establish a virtualization software known as a hypervisor. Its primary function is to generate a virtualization layer that isolates CPU/processors, RAM, and other physical resources from the virtual instances.
Once the hypervisor is installed on your host machine, you can utilize the virtualization software to imitate physical resources and produce a new virtual server.
Types of Server Virtualization
- Server virtualization comes in various types, classified according to the level of isolation they offer. This classification also depends on how many hardware resources they emulate.
- Full virtualization, also known as the virtual machine model, involves the hypervisor’s complete isolation of guest machines. The hypervisor shares the hardware of the host machine, but the guest machines operate as if they are running on an autonomous computer, unaware of the presence and function of the hypervisor.
These virtual machines are self-contained and independent, and as a result, there is no need to modify or adapt their instances of operating systems.
- When multiple virtual machines are needed, and resource sharing is flexible, a fully virtualized environment may not be necessary. In such cases, a para-virtualized environment can be a more suitable option. The paravirtual machine model eliminates the need for virtual machines to trap privileged instructions, making it more efficient and less intrusive to the system.
Instead, the operating systems are aware of the presence of a hypervisor and communicate directly with it through comments called hypercalls. For this communication to happen, the hypervisor and the operating systems must be specialized to exchange hypercalls. Therefore, paravirtualization requires a para-virtualized hypervisor and modified operating systems with an API (application programming interface) to facilitate communication via hypercalls.
Operating System Layer
- Virtualization at the OS level is an operating system feature that allows the creation of multiple user-space instances. This type of virtualization is known as containerization, and the user-space instances are called containers, partitions, virtual environments, or jails.
Programs can run inside the container but are limited to the resources assigned to that container, including devices and content. As this type of virtualization uses the same OS and kernel as the host, it can only differ from the host in terms of the OS version. Hence, it has limitations and cannot have a different OS from its host.
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