Server virtualization is a process wherein a hardware server is virtually represented by software. This can take two major forms. The first is a full-fledged server that is capable of running an operating system and performing all of the functions that an operating system equipped server would perform. The second is a virtual server that only runs one single process at a time. These are far more limited, but they do have a variety of different uses.
Server virtualization is used on server hardware and on desktop hardware. On server hardware, it can literally save thousands of dollars each time the virtualization software is utilized, as it means that another server did not have to be purchased to accommodate another operating system or another application. On desktop hardware, it can allow individuals on a business network or on their own network to take advantage of having multiple operating systems available to them. For example, somebody who needs Linux functionality on their laptop would be able to access a Linux operating system without having to boot into it separately.
As virtualization software has become more sophisticated, the demands on hardware have increased, but a great deal more potential has been opened up. For example, virtualization software is capable of providing very high quality graphics, even when multiple operating systems are being utilized. It also manages other hardware resources very well, allowing people to operate multiple operating systems with multiple applications open on the same machine without an appreciable slowdown in the performance of that machine.
Server virtualization comes in many different forms. Each of these different types of virtualization has its own role in IT technology. In some cases, it may be required that an entirely other operating system is installed on a machine that has a native operating system already. In other cases, a virtual machine may only need to be put together to run one particular application or to serve as a testing environment for developers working on new applications.
Virtualization is one of the most quickly developing areas of IT. The savings that companies and individuals stand to reap alone in terms of not having to purchase new hardware every time they need a new software operating environment are substantial. In addition to this, server virtualization makes it possible for companies that are rapidly expanding to do so without having to lay out tremendous amounts of capital to continue adding new servers, new space for those servers and all of the other potential expenses that go along with expansion, accommodating rapid business growth without the hazards of overspending on hardware that, with virtualization, may not even be necessary.