What is Virtualization

Virtualization is the process of creating a software-based or Virtual representation of something rather than have an actual physical one. Virtualization can be utilized for servers, storage, application and networks. According to Vmware a major challenge of today's x86 architecture machines is that they are designed to only run one operating system and application at one time. This causes datacenters to use many servers, all that are operating at only between 5 and 15 percent.

Virtualization allows you to simulate hardware and create a virtual computer or machine, many of these can be created allowing a user or a business to run more than one. Multiple operating systems and applications application can now be run on a single server. Vmware describes this in the following manner, The Virtual computer system is known as a "Virtual Machine" or a VM. The VMs are completely independent of each other, this allows you to place multiple VMs on a single physical computer. This computer is known the "Host"

A piece of software known as the hypervisor creates a thin layer, that decouples the virtual machines from the host and allocates the resources needed to each virtual machine as it needs it.

The major benefits of Virtual machines are as follows: Partitioning, Isolation, Encapsulation and Hardware Independence.

Partitioning in the realm of Virtualization refers to the ability to run multiple operating systems on one physical machine at the same time, and dividing the systems resources between a host multiple VMs. This can allow for server consolidation, as you are able to more effectively utilize your servers.

Isolation, virtual machines allow you to provide fault and security isolation for the hardware level, allowing you to not disrupted the other VMs on the host, while still having control over system resources.

Encapsulation, allows you to save a copy of the entire state of a virtual machine to a file, also called a snapshot. This allows you to move or copy over a virtual machine the same way you would move a file, in case of Hardware failure or scalability.

A common misconception about Virtualization, is people describe it as cloud computing. Cloud computing isn't virtualization, but cloud computing is something you can achieve using virtualization.

Hypervisors

As mentioned in the overview, a hypervisor is a piece of software that creates a thin layer, that monitors and decouples the VMs from its host. The hypervisor is one of the most important aspects of virtualization as this software is what allows the physical machine to share its resources among the VMs.

Hypervisors can be installed in two different "Types" or methods. Type I hypervisors are installed or deployed as a bare-metal installation. This allows the hypervisor to be the first thing installed on the machine and act as the server's operating system. The benefit to this method, it allows the hypervisor to interact direct with the hardware in which it is installed. The allows the VMs running to take advantage of the hardware, and is the preferred method for most production systems.

Type II Hypervisor, unlike the Type I is not installed bare-metal, but instead is installed on top of an already live operating system. An example of this method of install would be, a system with Windows 2012 R2 already installed, with a hypervisor such as Vmware Workstation 8 installed on the server. This method has it advantages in it gives you a base operating system that you might be more familiar with, but it does require an extra hop for resources to take when the pass to the VM, with most modern-day systems this latency is very minor and still allows the hypervisor to perform at an optimal performance.

There are four major companies currently provide enterprise datacenter level software, Vmware, Citrix, Microsoft, and KVM. The hypervisors they provide are normally used for enterprise systems, but there are there are several other vendors, Amazon, Google, Parallels/Odin, Oracle, and even Red Hat but in this tech brief we are going to focus on the big three Vmware, Microsoft's Hyper-V, and Citrix Xen.

Market Share: Virtualization

Among the top players in the Virtualization space, Vmware and Microsoft dominate this space with VMware's vSphere and Microsoft's Hyper-V respectively. According to Gartner's Magic Quadrant report in 2015 Vmware and Microsoft were listed as leaders, while Oracle, Red Hat, Odin, Citrix and Huawei. Gartner argues that while Vmware is the clear leader in x86 virtualization segment, it is lacking in adoption of cloud infrastructure services, market saturation due to the other players, and with major competition from Microsoft's Hyper-V.

Companies are switching between Vmware and Microsoft, but others are taking a different route. Oracle is allowing customers to run mission critical databases in a homogenous and Oracle certified platform. On the Linux front, Red Hat is offering and becoming the preferred platform for running Linux virtualized workloads.

As mentioned in the overview, Cloud infrastructure can be implemented using Virtualization, VMware's threats to its market share is with vCloud Air, its hybrid cloud platform isn't making a dent in the market, when placed up against market giants Amazon web services, and Microsoft's Azure.

Microsoft has some tricks up its sleeve when it comes to Hyper-V and maintaining itself as one of the market leaders. Microsoft's Hypervisor Hyper-V is bundled allowing with its Windows Server operating systems, this allows for integration between the Server's OS and the hypervisor management tools. Easy to deploy and manage large workloads with a cost close to zero as it is feature included with the server's OS. Microsoft is making strides to increase the flexibility of Hyper-V and increasing its applications. From enabling Azure, Microsoft's Cloud computing platform and services, increasing it the ease of use of its when compared to VMware's vSphere, and even investing money to take it from just Windows Server, giving it compatibility to run and maintain Linux virtual environments.

The leaders also have uses when combined with other desktop virtualization, such as Citrix and its product offerings, XenServer, XenDesktop, and XenApp. The XenDesktop and XenApp are seeing much more usage, but lacking when compared to Vmware and Microsoft's hypervisors. It is becoming more common to see the Cirtix desktop virtualization being used, but Hyper-V or vSphere being used as the backend hypervisor.

In the same report, Gartner stated that around 75% of x86 workloads are in some type of virtualized environment. For enterprise IT the next logical setup is deploying hybrid clouds, which Microsoft's Azure stack and Vmware vCloud Air are the leader's product offerings.