Virtual Machines

No Comment - Post a comment

There are several benefits to running virtual machines. Not only to try different distros or Operating systems(which is one of my favorite uses), but they provide so much more functionality.

First a little about virtualization and who needs it? It is the ability to run several different operating systems inside of one. Whether you are a Linux user, and cannot find an open source alternative for that one Windows based application, a Systems Administrator of several servers, a programmer testing software or just the average computer user curious to see what is outside the Windows;)

Virtualization Software Options

Virtualization software is available for a variety of needs, ranging from free or no-cost software for desktop users to six-figure packages for data-center operators.

The package you choose will depend on what you need to accomplish with the technology. Other factors to consider include how many computers you currently have, your level of technical expertise, and the kind of tech support available at your nonprofit.

If your organization is considering virtualization technology, here are three popular options you may wish to consider. For a broader comparison of the features of these and other packages, Wikipedia's Comparison of Virtual Machines may provide a general reference as well.

VMWare, Parallels, and Microsoft Virtual PC are several os the commercial developers of such software, but I would like to promote VirtualBox for it is free and recently has become my software of choice. I learned about such software at college, where they really take advantage of it's potential (VMWare). Whether learning Linux, Novell, or windows server 200X, the ability to have all these installed at home, without the worry of formatting a hard drive or mis-configuring anything I was intrigued.But that seems like an eternity now.

I now use VirtualBox on an Ubuntu host running Windows XP only because I need Windows and IE7 to run our MLS client for work. For Linux users Do not use the repository version because it is limited in functionality(No USB port, 3D Acceleration. etc). Below is a list of benefits created by Kevin Lo technology analyst for Techsoup:

The Benefits of Virtualization

Depending on your IT architecture, the nature of your work, and your IT budget, virtualization software can offer a variety of advantages to your nonprofit.

Server consolidation.

One of the primary benefits of virtualization software is that it allows you to increase the scale of your server infrastructure without purchasing additional pieces of hardware. (Keep in mind, however, that you may still need to purchase software licenses for the virtualization software, depending on the package you choose.)

Energy conservation.

In addition to savings in hardware costs, virtualization software may also save you money on your energy bill. According to Energy Star, the energy costs for running a server for a year will soon exceed the price of acquiring it.

Improving ease of management.

Managing virtual machines is a lot easier than managing “real” machines, since hardware upgrades, for example, can be done with the click of several buttons, rather than having to power down the machine, install the hardware, verify the change, then power up again. Moreover, managing virtual machines can often be done via a console server, thereby reducing the time needed to deploy them.

Reducing backup and recovery time.

Since virtual machines are essentially files, backing up and restoring them is a lot less time-consuming. And while the files can be huge, a directory of many 2-GB files is still easier to restore than a real machine of the same specifications. Moreover, hardware failures ― such as a failed hard drive ― will not affect virtual machines in the same way they would a physical machine. (Of course, the real hard drive on which the virtual machine reside needs to be backed up as usual.)

Testing software configurations.

Another way you can use virtualization software is for testing software configurations before deploying them on a live system. If you needed to verify whether a program is incompatible with your existing setup, for example, you may try testing in on a virtual machine first. This can be immensely useful for organizations that have legacy systems or applications and must test out systems before deploying them. Virtual machines can also interact with one another in virtual networks, allowing you to test server-client applications virtually.

Maintaining legacy applications.

If you do have old applications that have compatibility issues with newer software or that must run on a certain version of an operating system, you can dedicate a virtual machine just for those tasks. That way, your IT architecture and planning won't be constrained because of a few applications.

Maintaining a cross-platform office.

It is not uncommon for offices that run mostly Macs to need to run one or two Windows-only programs; in this case, virtual software can be an affordable, easy way to do this. Note, however, that the reverse is not applicable; many virtualization applications for PCs allow you to run Linux, but not Mac operating systems.


Not only is acquiring maintaining multiple computers costly, it can also take up a great deal of office space. Virtualizing your machines can free up space and reduce electronics clutter.

So if you are an average, curious user, administer for a mid-size corporation, or a large educational facility virtualzation could be for you. There are several appliances and operating systems available for free download on the Web, and if you haven't tried any Virtual appliances I highly recommend it, it's worth the effort. Even if you have tried VMWare at school or work, give VirtualBox a won't be disappointed.

This Post has No Comment Add your own!

Post a Comment