Information technology (IT) hardware and software is a catchall phrase that describes any form of computer system and usually implies a business use. With that in mind, IT virtualization is the process of turning those physical systems into virtual ones. The virtualization of computer systems reduces the need for computer hardware and software while increasing up-time and productivity. Nearly any computer system can be virtualized, but some are more commonly virtualized than others.
Server virtualization is one of the most common forms of IT virtualization. In this case, software runs on a physical server that makes it act as though it works as multiple machines. It is possible to install different applications on each virtual space to make unique virtual machines all run in tandem. These virtual servers maximize the efficiency of the physical server and reduce operation costs by cutting the number of physical machines needed to do a job.
Desktop virtualization is one of the more common types of IT virtualization methods that users will encounter. With this type of IT virtualization, a single computer contains operation information, personal settings, and installed applications for a number of different users. Instead of having a full computer, users have a box that connects them to the central system. The monitor displays a standard computer interface, but all of the work is done on the remote system.
Data virtualization is one of the more abstract types of IT virtualization. In this case, users may think they are accessing information normally, but in reality, they are accessing a virtual data system. The user looks through a list of information, such as documents, media files, or webpages, just like a normal computer system. When an application asks for a piece of information, the virtual data system connects to a remote system, retrieves the information, and brings it back to the user. In many cases, the user doesn’t even know the information is off-site.
In order to have fully-virtualized systems, there needs to be two things; high-speed data transfer and powerful computers. When a hardware system is virtualized, it reduces periods where the hardware is underutilized. These latent periods only happen when the system is powerful enough to do any task put before it with relative ease. Once machines this powerful became commonplace, virtualization quickly became a viable option.
High-speed data transfer is another cornerstone of IT virtualization. In the past, it was possible to keep IT resources off-site, but it was just highly impractical. The speed at which data moved was simply too slow for common use in a business environment. Now, information can move halfway around the world at nearly the same speed at which it can move from the basement server room. This increase in speed allows for data systems, storage, and server clusters to operate anywhere. These remote systems are typically virtualized in the home offices, and the users never know the difference.