What is Virtualization?
Virtualization simply means “the creation of a virtual version of something, such as a server, a desktop, a storage device, an operating system, or network resources”.
In other terms, virtualization is a strategy that allows numerous consumers and organizations to share a single physical instance of a resource or service. It accomplishes this by giving a physical storage a logical name and delivering a pointer to that physical resource when needed. From a single actual hardware system, it is possible to construct several simulated environments or dedicated resources. It refers to the use of a single infrastructure/environment to run multiple operating systems at the same time. A hypervisor connects to the hardware and allows users to divide a single system into virtual machines, which are separate, unique, and safe environments (VMs). Virtual machines rely on the hypervisor’s ability to separate the machine’s resources from the hardware and properly distribute them.
All virtualized machine applications execute as though they were on their own dedicated machine, with the operating system, libraries, and other programs dedicated to the guest and disconnected to the host OS, which sits beneath it. Virtualization allows a large system to be divided into numerous smaller sections, allowing server resources to be utilized more efficiently by a variety of users or applications with varying requirements. It also provides for resource isolation, which protects programs operating inside a virtual machine from processes running in another virtual machine on the same host. Virtualization helps to get the most value from digital infrastructure investments.
What is the need of virtualization?
Currently, the end user system, i.e. PC, is powerful enough to meet all of the user’s fundamental processing needs, plus a variety of additional features that are rarely used. The majority of their systems have enough capacity to host a virtual machine manager and run a virtual machine with acceptable performance so far.
Because of the limited usage of resources, hardware and software resources are underutilised. Because all of the user’s PCs are capable of meeting their daily computational needs, many of them are utilised often and may be used constantly without interruption 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Using these resources for other uses after hours could improve the efficiency of IT infrastructure. With the help of virtualization, this environment can be created.
Data centres are rapidly expanding due to the constant need for more capacity, whether it’s for memory storage or compute power. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon develop their infrastructure by constructing data centres that meet their specific requirements. The majority of businesses are unable to afford to establish a new data centre to accommodate increasing resource capacity. This contributes to the spread of a practice known as server consolidation.
Furthermore, the rise in demand for capacity surplus, that convert into more servers in a data centre, accountable for a significant increase in administrative costs. Hardware monitoring, server setup and updates, defective hardware replacement, server resources monitoring, and backups are included in common system administration tasks. These are personnel-intensive operations. The administrative costs is increased as per the number of servers. Virtualization decreases number of required servers for a given workload, hence reduces the cost of administrative employees.
What all can be virtualized?
1. Desktop Virtualization
The virtualization of the desktop, which sometimes is referred to as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), is where a desktop operating system (OS), such as Windows 7, will run as a virtual machine on a physical server with other virtual desktops. The processing of multiple virtual desktops occurs on one or a few physical servers, typically at the centralized data center. The copy of the OS and applications that each end user utilizes will typically be cached in memory as one image on the physical server.
2. Application Virtualization.
Program virtualization entails the use of software to bundle an application into a “single executable and run everywhere” format. The software program is isolated from the operating system and runs in a “sandbox” environment. Things like registry and configuration changes appear to occur on the underlying operating system when they are actually happening in the sandbox when the program is virtualized. Remote and streaming application virtualization are the two types of application virtualization.
3. Server Virtualization
Many virtual machines can run on a single physical server thanks to server virtualization. The virtual servers share the actual server’s resources, allowing the physical server’s resources to be better utilised. The virtual computers share CPU, memory, storage, and networking resources. All of these resources are made available to virtual machines via the actual server’s hypervisor. The operating system and software that run on the physical machine are referred to as the hypervisor. Each virtual machine on the same box operates independently of the others.
4. Storage Virtualization
Storage virtualization is the practice of utilizing software to aggregate physical storage into what appears to be a single virtual storage device. Storage virtualization and standard virtual machines have similarities in that they both abstract access to physical hardware and resources. A traditional virtual machine and a virtual storage are not the same thing. The virtual machine is a collection of files, whereas virtual storage is often executed in memory on a software-based storage controller.
5. Network Virtualization
By isolating virtual networks from the actual network hardware, network virtualization allows software to execute network functions. The physical network is only used for packet forwarding once network virtualization is implemented, therefore all administration is done through virtual or software-based switches. When VMware’s ESX server became popular, it came with a virtual switch that allowed for sufficient network administration and data transport within the ESX host. Cisco was intrigued by this paradigm shift, so when VMware upgraded to vSphere 4.0, Cisco assisted in the development of the new Distributed Switch.
Desktop virtualization is technology that lets users simulate a workstation load to access a desktop from a connected device. It separates the desktop environment and its applications from the physical client device used to access it. Desktop virtualization is a key element of digital workspaces and depends on application virtualization.
Desktop virtualization can be achieved in a variety of ways, but the two most important types are based on whether the operating system instance is local or remote.
Local desktop virtualization means the operating system runs on a client device using hardware virtualization, and all processing and workloads occur on local hardware. This type of desktop virtualization works well when users do not need a continuous network connection and can meet application computing requirements with local system resources. However, because this requires processing to be done locally you cannot use local desktop virtualization to share VMs or resources across a network to thin clients or mobile devices.
Remote desktop virtualization is a common use of virtualization that operates in a server computing environment. This allows users to run operating systems and applications from a server inside a data centre while all user interactions take place on a client device such as a laptop, thin client, or smartphone. This type of virtualization gives IT more centralized control over applications and desktops, and can maximize an organization’s investment in hardware through remote access to shared computing resources.
The software required for delivering virtual desktops depends on the virtualization method you chose.
With virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), the desktop operating system (most commonly Microsoft Windows) runs and is managed in the data center. Hypervisor software runs on the host server, delivering access to a VM to each end user over the network. Connection broker software is required to authenticate users, connect each to a virtual machine, monitor activity levels, and reassign the VM when the connection is terminated. Connection brokers may be bundled with, or purchased separately from, the hypervisor.
Remote desktop services (RDS/RDSH) can be implemented using utilities that are bundled with the Microsoft Windows Server operating system.
If you choose a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution, all software installation, configuration, and maintenance will be handled by the DaaS cloud-hosted service provider. This includes applications, operating systems, files, and user preferences.
A remote application is an application delivery solution wherein the actual application is installed on a central server and is used from a remote device. The end user receives screenshots of the application while being able to provide keyboard, thumb tap and mouse inputs. Remote apps have many names: remote application, server-client apps, app remoting, application virtualization and virtual apps. The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is one of the more popular protocols used to transmit data from the datacentre-hosted application to the remote devices.
There are quite a few benefits when it comes to remote applications, some of which are:
There is no conflict between different applications on the user’s computer because the remote application is not actually installed on their computer.
As remote applications do not run on the user’s computer, they can be accessed from a computer that is not running Windows. (For example, Mac users can access Windows-only applications because the application is running on a Windows computer elsewhere and only sends the application image to the user.)
The remote application can be used immediately, even if users have never used it before. Users simply click on the application icon and can start using it immediately.
When it is necessary to remove an application from a user, the IT department simply cancels the user’s permission to use the app. There is nothing to uninstall or remove on the user’s computer, and it won’t destroy anything on the user’s computer.
When IT departments need to update applications, they don’t need to go to hundreds of users’ desktops and update the applications there, they just need to update copies of the applications on their servers.
Published applications are virtual software programs that function as if they were installed locally. The process of delivering published applications is known as application remoting, where the application is physically installed on a separate device, such as a server in a data centre, and virtualization software displays it on an endpoint. This software, such as Citrix XenApp or VMware Horizon, can deliver both Windows and Linux published applications, depending on the endpoint operating system in use.
Users can access and launch published applications in the same way they do with native applications. IT can deliver published applications to users’ Windows and Linux desktops as well as their mobile devices. Windows PC users can access the published applications through the Start menu or shortcuts. Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) and VDI technologies both have application remoting capabilities, but published applications are more common with RDSH. They may also be available through desktop as a service offerings.
How to install published applications
IT has two options for how it delivers published applications to users. One approach is to publish an individual app. An IT professional can do so using the command line on the machine on which the application lives. The other option is to publish more than one application selecting a folder of applications to deliver.
The exact process IT pros must go through to install published applications to Windows PCs varies slightly depending on the virtualization software they use, but there are some common denominators in terms of the steps they must take.
The basic process starts with turning on published apps on users’ devices, which involves something as simple as clicking a check box or moving a slider to the on position in the application virtualization software. Next, IT selects a display name and description of the app. IT must then run a command to run the application from its local location and decide whether or not to make the app appear in the Start menu.
To publish apps as menus, IT follows the same basic steps, except the menus automatically appear in the Start menu. IT pros can use the shortcuts folder to change a menu’s name in the Start menu. Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, VMware Horizon and Microsoft RDSH all offer the ability to deliver published applications.
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