What is a Virtual Machine (VM)? – Technology Defined

Virtualization is a growing presence in every data centre. It allows you to reduce hardware costs and power consumption; it provides more flexible server provisioning and ensures that IT managers can be more responsive to business needs. VMs offer many benefits to organizations and allows you to not only simplify IT operations, but also to respond quickly to changing business demands.

What is a Virtual Machine (VM)?

A virtual machine is a computer application or file (which is typically called an image) that behaves like an actual computer. It runs on your current operating system in a window on your desktop to allow you to experiment with different operating systems, just like you would on a real, physical machine. Like physical machines, virtual machines have their own virtual hard drive – a large multi-gigabyte file stored on your hard drive which includes hardware, a virtual CPU, memory, network interface and other devices.

Why would you want to create a Virtual Machine?
  • They allow you to experiment with other operating systems.
  • Allows you to work safely with more reliability and security: VMs are essentially like working in a sandbox environment. Working within such a controlled environment when running programs is a good way to learn about operating systems (i.e. Linux Ubuntu). When you’re done evaluating or testing operating systems you can delete the VM or create a snapshot once everything's been configured just in case anything goes wrong.
  • Enables you to consolidate your servers: Up to 10 applications can run on a single VM that may have required several physical servers to operate.
What are some situations where a VM will be used?

Testing Software, New Configurations or Upgrades:

  • New versions of operating systems. This allows you to experiment with different versions of software without installing defunct versions onto your servers.
  • Multiple Platforms. Rather than keeping servers around to test multiple platforms, you can test whether an application works on different operating systems.

Implementing other software systems: you can install various systems within the VM and learn how they work at your own pace.

Using software that uses an outdated OS: there are several programs or laptops that aren’t compatible with Windows XP, however your organization may be using an application critical to your business that only operates in the XP environment. Using a VM allows you to run and use this application without having to actually install outdated software to physical machines.

Using software that needs another OS: If your organization is in a MAC environment and you wanted to run Windows software on this specific OS to test compatibility without using services like Wine or Crossover, VM allows you to run and use this application

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