In the last decade, virtual machines (VM) have been rising in popularity in many industries. Its adoption comes with many benefits such as data security against disaster and increased application utilization. Market Data Forecast highlights the VM market to be worth 3.5 billion USD in 2020 and predicted it would grow to 4.3 billion USD by 2026, displaying a CAGR of 2.9% for the forecast period. If you want to learn more about VMs, there are different types you should know of.
What exactly are virtual machines?
In a guide to virtual machines by MongoDB, VMs are described as applications that function as virtual computers while still residing within a physical one. This may sound a bit redundant, but all you need to remember is that VMs are similar to how virtual reality environments replicate the real world with similar features such as exploration and interaction with objects. VMs are also referred to as “guest machines” because the physical computer and VM believe they are interacting with a separate machine.
What are the uses of virtual machines?
Virtual machines have a plethora of uses, but here are some of the common ones:
- Cloud computing – Physical data and hardware are virtualized and distributed through cloud computing technology. Some examples of which include Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud.
- Software testing – Since VMs are isolated from surrounding infrastructure, they can be used to create fully functional software development environments. Isolation helps make the testing process more accurate as well.
- Malware investigations – Similar to software testing, VMs can help malware researchers to test suspicious programs thanks to their separate environment.
- Disaster management – Using a VM, you can replicate a cloud environment to allow for easier replacement in case of disaster. iPhone users might be familiar with this concept, as they regularly back up data using iCloud.
- Running outdated programs – Lastly, VMs can simulate past operating systems that may no longer be available to run older applications.
What are the different types of virtualization?
Aside from uses, there are also many types of virtualization, with the following being the most relevant:
- Application virtualization – This process involves a virtualization layer inserted between the application and the operating system. As mentioned earlier, the application will believe that it is directly interacting with the OS.
- Desktop virtualization – This technology lets users simulate a workstation, enabling multiple desktop operating systems. Lightweight desktops can run on a shared physical machine, which allows for more productivity.
- Hardware virtualization – This type lets physical hardware be treated as virtual devices that are accessible over a network. For instance, guest operating systems function through CPU virtualization.
- Storage virtualization – The Software-as-a-Service startup LifeVault is one example of storage virtualization. It involves gathering physical storage from multiple devices into what appears to be a unified storage device.
What are the benefits of virtual machines?
In our previous article on ‘Virtual Machines and Their 3 Major Benefits’, we highlight the reasons why we think VMs are game-changing. First, VMs come with no additional hardware costs. This advantage has allowed developers to test their work across different devices and operating systems without having to purchase any additional hardware. For small businesses and startups, this can mean a lot of resources saved. This also means less money spent on cooling systems, physical storage, and electricity bills.
Virtual machines also need fewer and more efficiently-utilized servers. Virtualization requires a single server to host multiple VMs that can cater to various OS and applications. This also keeps the work of IT personnel simpler and enables them to maintain a more controlled environment through a single server instead of the device-by-device method. Finally, VMs allow for safe testing and operations. Windows Sandbox is an example of a virtual machine where users can safely test out applications on Windows.