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What is virtualization?

vom gridscale Team

Increasing efficiency, reducing complexity and optimization are important issues for data centers and IT infrastructures that are driven by virtualization. For years, virtualization in the cloud has been regarded as a successful technology for cost-saving processing, streamlining and better utilization of IT infrastructures of all types and sizes. Private users, small businesses as well as medium-sized and large companies are all taking advantage of virtualization today. But what exactly does the term stand for, which IT components does the technology refer to, and how do the advantages of virtual systems show themselves?

How does virtualization work?

In computer science, the term virtualisation stands for the reproduction of hardware and software objects (host system) by a new element (guest system), also known as a virtual machine. This is done via an additional software virtualization layer, the so-called hypervisor (Virtual Machine Monitor, VMM for short). This allows several virtual components such as hardware and operating systems, data storage and network resources to be generated on a single server, which can be used in the same way as for physically existing servers. If multiple host systems are virtually tied to a single host system, resources for a single virtual machine are reduced. The hypervisor allows computer resources, such as storage or computing capacity, to be aggregated or redistributed. Using VMM, virtualization simulates the presence of hardware resources to create a new, completely virtual machine (VM).

Goals of virtualization of IT components

Besides saving operating costs, the main goal of virtualization is to provide an abstraction layer between the user and the computer resource. Thus both sides are decoupled from each other and cannot see the physical constellation of the other side. The so-called hardware abstraction layer, which is implemented here, makes it possible to simulate certain physical conditions. For example, a user can pretend to be the sole user of a certain resource while it is actually being used by other users.
Another scenario would, for example, simulate an operating system running on solid hardware alone. In fact, however, it runs as a traditional application within another operating system that uses only emulated hardware on the abstraction layer.

Types of virtualization

There are basically two types of virtualization, hardware and software virtualization:

Hardware Virtualization
Software Virtualization
System virtualization:
- Communication between VM and host system via VMM
- Distribution of the hard disk and main memory
- Saving hardware
Operating System Virtualization:
- Simulation of Linux on Windows computers and vice versa
Processor (CPU) Virtualization:
- More Performance
- Optimization of the physical processor

Application Virtualization:
- Separation between programs and local operating systems
- Saving of resources (no update on individual local computers and reduction of license costs)
Memory (RAM) virtualization:
- Allocation of hard disk space
- Merge hard disk space

Cloud Computing vs. Virtualization

Cloud computing is a non-profit resource that is used simultaneously by many users. On the contrary, virtualization achieves separate resource management. Depending on the intended use, both solutions are used.


Virtualization allows different hardware resources to be merged into a single, homogeneous environment. The goal is to achieve relevant and significant hardware savings through virtualization. Last but not least, the whole thing is regarded as an important measure of the Green IT Initiative and has a clear and positive ecological effect when used optimally.