Virtualization in Web Development: A Complete Introduction
How does virtualization in web development work? Explore the concept and types of virtualization and learn more about its benefits and drawbacks.
Written by RamotionJun 5, 202312 min read
Last updated: Feb 9, 2024
Web development firms are constantly looking for ways to improve the development process at the backend. The rapidly changing technological world demands constant exploration and experimentation with new tools in the market. Virtualization is one of the tools to revamp the web development process by removing the underlying hardware resources and creating virtual machines.
In this article, we will introduce you to the concept of virtualization and its types. We will discuss some significant benefits, drawbacks, and use cases to present a holistic impact of virtualization for organizations.
Read along for an improved understanding of virtualization and its impact on the digital environment.
Virtualization is a process that separates a service of a computer system from its underlying physical resources. It enables the creation of virtual machines that are software-created versions of computing resources. The multiple virtual machines become independent computers running on their operating systems. Multiple operating systems and applications can run on the same computer hardware, increasing the flexibility and utilization of a physical machine.
The virtualization process is cost-effective, hardware-reducing, and energy-saving. The method effectively enhances the digital infrastructure's performance at low financial expenses, making it a common practice for organizations. Moreover, virtualization can be used in different environments like production and development environments.
It is also known as hardware virtualization that provides infrastructure as a service, forming the basis of cloud computing as it enables users to purchase the computing resources they need and scale them accordingly. Another important aspect of virtualization is providing a virtual environment for applications, storage, and networking.
Benefits of Virtualization
Virtual machines have redefined digital network accessibility for users and organizations. From eliminating computer hardware and storage devices to managing different operating systems, virtualization significantly changes an organization's digital environment. It offers an efficient and improved method for connectivity.
Let's look at some of the main advantages of virtualization.
What are the benefits of virtualization?
Some of the advantages of virtualization include:
- Resource utilization
- Performance enhancement
With the elimination of hardware resources in a virtualization setup, the initiation and expansion of virtualization have become more accessible. Resource utilization becomes faster and more straightforward as a completely virtual environment requires only one point of access to be used by an entire organization. It ensures maximum utilization of the computing power of available hardware resources. Hence, it allocates resources to a flexible and efficient process.
Virtualization is free of physical hardware. It only depends on physical computers and not even a single storage device for data processing. It also eliminates the need for large spaces to manage on-site resources. On the contrary, you must buy a license or access it from a third-party provider to become a part of a virtualized development environment. It leads to a significant cut down in expenses, making it a cheaper and more affordable solution for organizations. Moreover, relying on third-party providers for the virtualization process enables companies to predict costs and manage their financial resources accordingly.
Since third-party providers primarily manage virtual machines, they control the updates of hardware elements and the software layer. It reduces the workload of IT professionals within the organization, and they can focus on other aspects of network management. Moreover, virtualization enables companies to offer better uptime for user interaction. Hence, improving the overall performance of the organizations.
Hence, organizations can make the most out of virtualization with better resource provisioning and cutting down significant costs. A setup that ensures better performance of companies in the competitive digital space.
How does virtualization work?
Virtualization can be simply explained as creating a digital version of computer hardware. The virtualization process depends on the network and operating system details, but it follows some basic steps. Before we explain how it works, let's understand some basic terms associated with the process.
- Hypervisor - a software layer that provides an interface between the physical hardware and virtual machines
- Host machines - an operating system that has the installed hypervisor
- Guest operating systems - an operating system that runs in a virtual machine
- Virtual machine - a virtual copy of the physical hardware, an application code that functions as a server
The process begins with creating virtual machines using a hypervisor-based on a single physical computing system. While all virtual machines connect to a single computer, each becomes an independent machine with its operating system. The hypervisor acts as management software that allocates resources to virtual machines as needed.
Types of Virtualization
Now that you understand virtualization and how it works, let's explore the various types of virtualization being implemented nowadays. The IT infrastructure can be virtualized at different levels in a network.
Following are some of the common types of virtualization
What are the types of virtualization?
Following are the major types of virtualization
- Application Virtualization
- Network Virtualization
- Desktop Virtualization
- Storage Virtualization
- Server Virtualization
- Data virtualization
It enables remote access to applications software on a user's operating system without installing the app. Unlike desktop virtualization, it only runs the specific application in a virtual environment. While the physical server stores all the vital information of the application, the virtualization software makes it accessible on multiple operating systems through the internet. The three main application types are local application virtualization, application streaming, and server-based application virtualization.
Running on a standard physical network, it uses software to create multiple virtual networks with individual controls and data plans. It abstracts hardware elements into software running on a hypervisor. The two types of network virtualization are software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV).
It allows users' operating systems to be stored remotely on a server, enabling multiple desktop operating systems to run on a single local computer using separate virtual machines. Virtual desktops allow users to access multiple operating systems on a single machine. The two significant types of desktop virtualization include virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and local desktop virtualization.
It is an array of servers that are managed by a virtual storage system. Storage virtualization is a way to enhance the storage capacity of a network. All storage spaces become accessible as a single storage device for the entire network. It manages storage from multiple sources, ensuring smooth operations, consistent performance, and advanced functions. Storage virtualization provides more accessible storage for all virtual machines in a network.
It is one of the most common types of virtualization. It functions by masking the server resources. Server virtualization divides the central single physical server into multiple virtual servers. Since each virtual server has its unique identity and processor, it can operate its operating systems in isolation. It ensures better performance and reduced operational costs.
Data is crucial for organizations in the modern-day digital world. It is collected from multiple applications in various formats from different locations through data virtualization. The data is logically arranged for virtual access. Data virtualization tools create a software layer between the applications and the systems. It translates the application's data request to provide results for multiple systems, breaking data distribution into different silos.
The different types of virtualization create better accessibility of platforms, data, servers, applications, or storage. It depends on the level of virtualization within the network.
Virtualization vs. Cloud Computing
While virtualization is the software that powers cloud technology, cloud computing is a digital service. They are two separate concepts in the digital world that work together in a hybrid cloud model where a virtual machine interacts with the cloud infrastructure for an improved online communication network. Combining the two enables organizations to maximize the benefits of cloud computing in a more secure and controlled environment due to virtualization.
Virtualization software can manipulate the hardware resources; cloud providers utilize that manipulation to provide a digital service to organizations and users. Cloud computing relies on the concept of virtualization to provide various services. Integrating these concepts creates a digital infrastructure that offers automated management, improved scalability, and significantly reduced financial expenses.
Server Virtualization vs. Containerization
Virtualization is a broader concept for digital infrastructures, while containerization is a type of virtualization. The former runs multiple operating systems on a single server, while the latter a single operating system with numerous user spaces. Virtualization enables users to share a digital space for data accessibility and storage, unlike containerization, which allows a single user to run processes simultaneously.
Virtualization isolates the operating system, while containerization isolates the host operating system machine. The former operates using a kernel-based virtual machine, and the latter creates containers for each user and its particular operating system. While virtual machines host a range of guest operating systems, containers are only specific to the host's operating system. Hence, virtualization is more inclusive as compared to the specificity of containerization.
Advantages of a Virtualized Development Environment
The virtualization hardware creates a development environment that offers several benefits to organizations. The maximum impact is on deployment times as the speed to set up the environment process is considerably reduced. It makes it easier to implement for new developers as well. The process can be completed in hours, making it a quick setup for companies.
What are the advantages of a virtualized development environment?
Some major aspects of improvement include:
- Deployment times
- Testing processes
Moreover, virtual machines enhance the flexibility of access for the users. Developers can work on multiple applications or projects on a single hardware. It enables users to easily contribute to different environments, making collaboration effective and hassle-free. The simplified process also ensures less time on maintenance activities, leaving more room for productive work and team coordination.
Lastly, the virtualized development environment is suitable for running tests on a cloned local environment without affecting the production environment. Since the environment is segmented into multiple virtual machines, developers can clone the desired virtual machine for testing processes while keeping the rest of the network unaffected.
Drawbacks of Virtualization
In a world of physical resources working in their physical environment, virtualization software expands your network's accessibility for users. However, like every technological advancement, it has its share of problems.
Let's look at some of the most common drawbacks of virtualization.
What are the drawbacks of virtualization?
Virtualization can lead to the following disadvantages:
- Security risks
- Performance issues
- Management complexity
While virtualization isolates a virtual machine from one's operating system, it still poses security risks. Viruses, malware, and ransomware attacks are the most common security threats when implementing virtualization technology. It can affect the entire virtual infrastructure, giving the hacker access to your virtual machine's control. It puts your data and the physical server at risk. Since data is a crucial part of today's technological world, security threats can devastate organizations. Hence, companies should be careful when implementing virtualization into their digital infrastructure.
Another major drawback of a virtual environment is a need for more control over your data-handling processes. Data accessibility relies on an organization's network management with the online virtualization infrastructure. Any breakdowns in the communication between the company and its data in the virtual environment can lead to availability issues for long periods. Hence, adversely affecting the performance of organizations in the highly competitive business world.
Network virtualization broadens the connections of your digital infrastructure. As a result, you are running multiple operating systems, virtual machines, physical components, and network resources together. It makes managing data services a complex process with reduced control of tasks as small as saving a file. Since several links have to work in synchronization, the process is complicated to manage. It demands greater efficiency and effective organization of data virtualization processes.
Hence, it becomes vital for organizations to navigate these issues when shifting from the limited space of a physical network to more liberating virtual environments.
Uses of Virtualization
Virtualization is rapidly developing as a foundational solution for organizations to improve their efficiency, performance, and storage. The idea is to revamp modern digital networks, and organizations increasingly opt for virtualization solutions.
Let's look into some everyday use cases of virtualization.
What are the most common uses of virtualization?
Some widely known use cases of virtualization include:
- Web hosting
- Legacy application support
- Remote access
- Development/testing environments
1. Web hosting
One of the most common use cases for virtualization is web hosting. Since multiple servers can coexist in complete isolation in the same virtual environment, it is suitable for hosting a web service. It ensures that multiple users from different servers can access a web service simultaneously while keeping each user's access private from others on the website.
2. Legacy application support
Legacy applications are outdated software programs incompatible with modern-day operating systems. Since application virtualization creates an environment that supports multiple operating systems, it also supports the running of legacy applications. Hence, integrating them into modern digital networks.
3. Remote access
Since virtualization is not dependent on physical hardware, remote access tools can be used to access and manage virtual machines. It makes the network flexible and easier to navigate. Moreover, remote access ensures better availability of the network for an organization.
4. Development/testing environments
It is the creation of virtualized environments that consist of virtual machines used to test different software versions and potential products. It creates a low-stakes environment where developers can experiment and explore new ways of implementing ideas within the organization's network without impacting the overall digital infrastructure.
Virtualization is an essential concept for modern-day organizations. The virtual servers enable companies to improve their performance, storage capacity, and profits with reduced reliance on physical hardware. The process allows communication between host and guest machines via shared virtualization software. While the process is cost-effective and enhances hardware utility, it also contains security risks and management complexities. Hence, it becomes essential for organizations to plan out the virtualization for better results.
However, despite the issues associated with virtualization, it has become a standard practice for organizations to access computing infrastructures. Some of the leading uses of virtualization include web hosting and remote access. Each use case ensures better provision of services for the end user, bringing better results and improved business for organizations. Hence, virtualization is a crucial aspect to explore in web development as it can lead to more excellent stability in your industry.