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March 15, 2017

What is virtualisation?

From servers to networks, virtualisation has turned out to be an IT game changer.

By Joao Lima

Virtualisation dates back to the 1960s and is the process of building something virtually (for example, a server or a network) instead of physically developing something.

With virtualisation software, it is possible to run several OSs and applications on one given server, instead of using several servers for the same effect.

This has led to a reduction of the amount of servers in the data centre industry, saving space, for example. It also benefits companies – colocators, data centre providers, web services providers – in terms of reducing the amount of energy needed to power the server and reducing resources wastage.

In addition, virtualisation helps to increase agility, productivity, responsiveness, flexibility and scalability.

The main areas where virtualisation has become a de facto trend are server virtualisation, network virtualisation and storage virtualisation.

What is server virtualisation?

Server virtualisation refers to splitting one physical server into smaller virtual ones. With server virtualisation, details about the server, including OSs, for example, are masked from server users.

According to Gartner, in 2016, 86% of all server workloads will have been virtualised (compared to 50% in 2013).

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According to VMware, in network virtualisation, virtualisation principles are applied to physical network infrastructure, abstracting network services to create a flexible pool of transport capacity that can be allocated, utilised and repurposed on demand.

A virtualised network is a software container that presents logical network components (logical switches, routers, firewalls, load balancers, VPNs and more) to connected workloads.

As for storage virtualisation, this is the action of grouping different physical storage devices into a single storage hardware.

The major virtualisation players in the market today are VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Red Hat and Oracle.

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