It seems that some companies and open source advocates are on a wild crusade to virtualize America. Maybe that’s a good thing. But did you know there are different levels of virtualization? Wikipedia names 19 ways to virtualize a computing environment. I’m only going to talk about 5.
Some of those 19 are subcategories of the major virtualization techniques, but some of them can also be understood as stand alone techniques. For our purposes, we’ll discuss these 5 virtualization techniques, or levels:
- Hardware Virtualization – This is the use of computing hardware in an environment separate from the actual existence of the hardware. There are different levels of hardware virtualization including full, partial and paravirtualization. Each has its own advantages and unique characteristics.
- Virtual Machine – A virtual machine is a software clone of a real computer that executes programs as if it were the computer. Other types of software virtualization techniques include virtual appliance, application virtualization, cross-platform virtualization and OS virtualization.
- Storage Virtualization – Just as the name implies, the focus is on separating physical storage from actual storage.
- Desktop Virtualization – The ability to operate a computing environment remotely.
- Network Virtualization – The creation of work space within a larger network or across networks using virtualization techniques.
With virtualization, companies have more capability and more resources available to them. Their computing can be more flexible and is more scalable. Which level of virtualization is for you depends on your goals and values. All levels of virtualization can be interoperable with broader networks or nodes, including the grand daddy of them all – the Internet cloud.