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Virtualisation is the use of software to create virtual versions of physical computing resources. A wide range of computing resources can be virtualized, including servers, desktop computers, operating systems, applications and networks. Virtual versions emulate the functions of their actual, physical versions. They can be housed remotely from the end devices that rely on them, which is a game changer for organisations struggling with IT sprawl.

Benefits of Virtualisation

  • Vastly reduced need for physical computer equipment.
  • Reduced maintenance burden on internal IT staff
  • Lower operating costs (space, cooling, power bills)
  • Up to 80% greater utilization of computing resources
  • More robust and highly available networks
  • Easy scalability to meet dynamic computing needs

Server Virtualisation

A 'server' was traditionally a powerful, physical computer that contained software to process incoming requests for information. Servers were originally designed to run one operating system and one application at a time. Growing computing needs required the addition of more and more individual servers, with each operating inefficiently, well below capacity, most of the time.  This 'sprawl' of IT equipment is very costly for businesses to house and maintain.

Virtualisation software allows servers to run multiple operating systems and applications all at once. This is a far more efficient use of resources. A virtual server (sometimes referred to as a 'virtual private server' or VPS) exists as software within a physical server, and each physical server can run many different virtual servers. It means the physical server's hardware can be used at peak efficiency, with considerable savings in space, cooling and power costs.

Application Virtualisation

Virtualisation software enables applications to be executed without being physically installed and configured on individual devices. A virtualised application carries its own set of configurations on-demand, and does not affect operating systems or other programs. In effect, it works independently within its own virtual environment.

Installing and configuring applications on individual devices – the traditional way - is time-consuming and costly. Virtualised applications are more efficient and flexible. Multiple operating systems and applications can be run from a single location. They can be run locally on a PC, on network drives, servers or even USB sticks.

Network Virtualisation

Network virtualisation transforms physical hardware and software network resources into a single, software-based virtual network. Network resources are abstracted, pooled and automated to reduce the reliance on rigid, physical IT architecture. For example, external network virtualisation combines or subdivides one or more Local Area Networks (LANs) into virtual networks, to improve the efficiency of a large network or data centre. These are known as Virtual Local Area Networks (VLAN).

The benefits of virtualised networks include:

  • Scalability to meet dynamic business needs
  • Simplified IT management
  • More efficient use of network resources
  • Lower operating costs (space, power, cooling)
  • More robust and highly available networks
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