Research Hub > What is Virtualization & What are its Benefits?

September 09, 2022

Use Case
5 min

What is Virtualization & What are its Benefits?

How does virtualization actually work, and what are all the different ways it can work for your business?

CDW Expert CDW Expert

Virtualization allows you to take one piece of machinery and make it act like multiple pieces, saving you the cost of more hardware and equipment. You can create software-based (virtual) applications, servers, storage, networks, desktops and more through virtualization. It is the most efficient way to reduce IT expenses while boosting efficiency and agility for your business.

But how does virtualization actually work? How can it work for your business? Why should you consider virtualization as an option instead of just buying more equipment?

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is the process of running a virtual instance of a computer system in a layer separate from the actual hardware. It is often inefficient and costly for organizations to deploy multiple servers to keep pace with their storage and processing needs. Instead, virtualization provides the ability to create multiple simulated environments from a single, physical hardware system. This process is done through software called a hypervisor, which connects directly to your hardware and allows you to split that one system into completely separate, distinct and secure environments called virtual machines. The hypervisor provides the ability to separate the machine's resources — such as CPU, memory, storage and more — from the hardware and distribute them appropriately.

These virtual machines are self-contained and completely independent from each other. One common use is running applications meant for a different operating system on the virtualized system, so you don't have to switch computers or reboot.

Types of Virtualization

There are many different ways to utilize virtualization for your needs and revolutionize your business. Here are just a few examples of how virtualization can be used to benefit your business:

Server Virtualization

You can use virtualization to enable multiple operating systems to run on a single physical server as highly efficient virtual machines. Completely independent from each other, virtual servers eliminate server sprawl and complexity, reduce operating costs, and provide higher server availability, increased application performance, faster workload deployment and greater IT efficiencies.

Application Virtualization

Virtualizing applications allows them to be delivered from a server straight to an end user's device, such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Instead of having to log into computers at work on a netw ork server, your employees can instead gain access to the application right from their electronic device, as long as there is an internet connection.

Network Virtualization

Completely reproducing a physical network, network virtualization combines all physical networking equipment into a single, software-based resource. This allows applications to run on a virtual network just like they would on a physical network. However, a virtual network provides independence from hardware and greater operational benefits.

Desktop Virtualization

One of the most popular types of virtualization, desktop virtualization separates the desktop environment from the physical device, allowing users to access all their personal files and applications on any PC. Your employees will no longer have to lug around their work laptops or come into the office to complete specific tasks.

By accessing files on any computer, your employees can work from anywhere. In addition, deploying virtual desktops allows your organization to respond faster to changing workplace needs, including the needs of out-of-town employees and remote workers.

Storage Virtualization

Virtual storage to the storage capacity that is accumulated from multiple physical devices and then made available for reallocation in a virtualized environment. It is the pooling of physical storage from multiple devices into what appears to be a single storage device managed from a central console. Relying on software to identify available storage capacity, the technology then aggregates that capacity as a pool of storage that can be used in a virtual environment by virtual machines.

To users, virtual storage appears like a standard read or write to a physical drive. It hides the complexity of the storage system, which allows users and administrators to perform tasks such as backup, archiving and recovery in an easier, less time-consuming manner.

Benefits of Virtualization

From increasing the agility, flexibility and scalability of your business's IT to increasing the performance of your workforce to allow for the optimization of resources, virtualization has numerous benefits for your organization.

Additional benefits include:

  • Reduced upfront hardware and continuing operating costs
  • Minimized or eliminated downtime
  • Increased IT productivity and responsiveness
  • Greater business continuity and disaster recovery response
  • Simplified data center management
  • Faster provisioning of applications and resources

Virtualization might not be the answer for every business, but it provides a beginning point and is a learning tool for anyone trying to optimize their IT strategies and get the most out of their current equipment.