Sample Research Paper on Virtualization



Visualization technology is among the issues in information technology that aims at overhauling the computing industry. The benefits associated with visualization technology are brought about by various factors including economic and environmental factors, competition, and other governmental regulations. In modern times, technological tools like computers have enabled businesses of all types and sizes to compete with each other. Replacing technology is a costly affair because replacement is expensive for small businesses that don’t have high margins. A firm or business that intends to gain more out of the existing technology should embrace virtualization. By definition, virtualization is the aspect of moving the physical systems in a virtual environment, which in many cases is located off-site but connected over the internet (Parker, 2013). Virtualization started as a technology in the testing and the development sector, but it has become a key part of the production and many manufacturers have been using virtualization and cloud offerings. Server visualization divides one physical server into multiple virtual servers that help each of the servers to run on its own application. It is said to be a slow process, but cloud infrastructures have been built through the virtualization concept. There are various types of virtualization including operating system, server, storage, and hardware virtualization (Joysulla, 2012 p.3). On the other hand, virtualization has various merits including cost reduction, an extension of technology’s life, better testing methods among other merits. This being the case, the aim of this paper is to study virtualization in terms of the different types of virtualization technologies, the merits and drawbacks of virtualization as well as the application of virtualization in the business and IT world today.

Types of visualization technologies

Server virtualization

Server virtualization is the moving or the transfer of the existing physical servers to a virtual environment whereby these virtual servers are hosted on/by the physical server (Boursas, 2008). The virtual environment is able to hold many servers at the same time, thereby reducing the number of servers a company has physically. This is important as it helps in reducing information technology and other administrative expenses. Some virtualized servers are stored offsite by other hosting firms (Gibson, 2011 P. 375). In severe virtualization, each server performs one function, for example, mail server, internet server, file server, or even the enterprise resource-planning server. This being the case, each server utilizes a fraction of its capability, thereby reducing the barrier that many physical servers could have caused if they were being utilized. The virtual servers in this case prompt fewer physical servers to be required, and at the same time lead to higher utilization of the existing physical server/hardware. What happens with the single physical server is that it shares resources across multiple applications as well as hosts multiple OS (operating systems). It also helps firms in connecting remote locations, thereby freeing the users from physical and geographical limitations. In addition to costs, server virtualization saves firms and businesses energy as well as lowers capital expenditures as a result of efficient use of the hardware resources. There is also better management of resources and improved disaster recovery processes (Dittner & Rule, 2007). Physical space is utilized and there is reduced power consumption with no need for extra cooling. Additional applications can also be deployed without new physical hardware installation.

Operating system virtualization

This type of virtualization occurs when the desktop main operating system is moved into a virtual environment such that one uses the hardware, but the OS is hosted on a server elsewhere (Wolf, 2005). One version of the server is distributed to the virtual users to modify as their application demands. The modification does not affect other users who may be hosted by the same server.

Storage virtualization

This is the combining of multiple hard drives into a single virtualized storage environment such that each of the users working from remote places can save/store their data in the cloud storage (Wolf & Walter, 2005 p. 435).

Advantages and disadvantages of virtualization

One of the advantages of this type of virtualization is that it reduces the total number of servers in a business setting. In server virtualization, one physical server is consolidated into several virtual servers, thereby reducing the physical space that the servers would have occupied. At the same time, it reduces the costs of buying the servers and the maintenance costs for the servers.  It should be noted that the more servers a business or a firm have, the more the IT costs will be involved.  Virtualization, therefore, helps in reducing the power and costs that more servers would consume and when being maintained. Since the virtual server allows independent running of applications, more applications are capable of being run in the system. This follows the fact that each of the virtual servers runs on its own operating system, enabling it to perform like an individual server. This being the case more applications can be run without affecting other applications in other servers or those in the dedicated physical server. Lack of dependence on the other servers or the dedicated physical server, virtualization of the server can help in business continuity in the sense that absolute hardware will not derail or make it difficult to shift from one operating system to another within the same main server. Because of all of the above server virtualization advantages, it is evident that it has the capability of improving the business or firm’s efficiency and at the same time reduces the capital expected to install all the servers thereby lowering the cost of ownership.

Despite the advantages that server virtualization has, and like any other application, the system has drawbacks. One of the limitations of server virtualization is the fact that it may not be a good option in applications that require high processing power. This is because during virtualization, the available power is distributed among the various servers and this leads to the entire system becoming slow and therefore takes more time to complete given tasks (Smyth, 2010 p. 180). Apart from slowing the system by limiting the processor’s speed, the storage space is affected since the physical computer’s storage is divided into several servers thus reducing and affecting the storage or the disk space. With the virtualization of the server, moving data from one virtual server to another is easier, but this is only possible when both machines in virtualization are from the same processor manufacturer. This means that it is impossible to shift virtual data from one physical machine to another.

Another disadvantage of server virtualization is the fact that in case of the failure of the physical component, there is a magnified physical failure. This is given on the assumption that could the virtual servers be running on one physical server/host and it happens that the RAID malfunctions or crushes erasing all the data in the hard disks, the total data loss would be great. Since the virtual servers rely on the physical component, it is only logical to assume the effect of such a failure. To address this downfall, several approaches can be employed which include clustering implying putting extra effort to address the issue. Another way to counter server downplay is through backing up the virtual machines using continuous data protection (CDP) solutions. This would help in that could the physical server malfunctions or goes down, it would be possible to restore all the virtual machines to another host. This, therefore, requires the availability of another server with enough capacity to act as a backup. It is therefore important to invest in a redundant server, which would be used for backup and restore purposes. The presence of a redundant server in this case denies the virtualization servers one of the identified advantages of cost and space. Running applications in a virtual environment will definitely require extra hardware resources. This being the case since every software is likely to behave in a given way when in the virtualized environment, it is likely to result in a situation where there will be a degraded performance. The occurrence of degraded performance, in this case, can be addressed if all applications were tested thoroughly with the virtualization solutions needed.

Server virtualization brings in a lot of changes to the entire system. This implies that new problems or complexities are added to the business/existing. Whereas it may be easy to find out problems that the physical hardware has, it may be difficult to find out the problem in a virtualized system. This is because the installation of a new system brings in new challenges that would be difficult to identify especially if the system is new.

Virtualization has advantages that include the ease of migration, cloning, and snapshots among others. Despite these advantages, it is only possible to make use of them if there are proper management tools. This implies that virtualization brings in extra costs and time to cater and install such utilities at the same time, the backup will be required which also requires time and costs to be incurred (Kusnetzky, 2011). This implies more work for the management.

Installing a virtual machine is a simple undertaking that only requires cloning a master image to a new virtual machine. Being such an easy task may lead to the number of virtual servers growing faster than the number of administrators who are supposed to run them or manage them. This may not be beneficial to the company. It is therefore important to know when the virtual servers have reached their physical limit. Some organizations may be having virtual servers because it is easy to create them, but not because they are necessary. This leads to underutilization leading to wastage of resources. It should also be known that, because of the simplicity of installation of the virtual environment, many organizations may end up introducing virtual environments in situations and places that may better stay with the physical hardware, as this may lead to problems in unforeseen circumstances.

Virtualization and cloud computing

Virtualization and cloud computing are in modern times being scaled down to small and modern businesses. In building private cloud infrastructures, cloud computing and virtualization technology are utilized. Each technology is utilized and deployed separately. The combination of cloud computing and virtualization helps to reduce costs as well as optimize the usage of the available resources. Virtualization helps a single server to run in different computing environments. Cloud computing harbors virtualization and it helps a business/organization to get access to complex applications and enormous computing resources through the internet. Both technologies operate on one-to-many models implying that virtualization can enable one computer to act upon like several distinct computers and on the other hand, cloud computing may organizations gain access to one application (Bauer, 2012).

Layers of virtualization

In a computing environment, several layers are involved that are virtualized depending on the need of the organization; whether performance, availability, agility or consolidation, and agility among other goals. In access virtualization, the hardware and software technology let/permit any device to have access to the application without having to know each other. In access visualization, there is an assumption that the device sees another device that it is used to work with and the other device sees an application that it knows how to display. Special devices are put in to help many users to share the single client as well as the single individual being able to see and access multiple displays.

In application visualization, the technology allows applications to run on multiple OS and hardware platforms. Applications not using the framework do not benefit from the virtualization. In case of failure, an application can be restarted. Processing virtualization technology helps one system to appear as if they were many and many systems to appear as a single computing resource. It aims at achieving raw performance, high scalability levels, reliability, and the consolidation of several environments onto a single system. It hides the physical hardware from the system services, OS, or other applications. The storage virtualization technology enables many systems to share the same storage devices without disclosing to the available systems that they are sharing the same storage. It also helps to take snapshots of the live system that can be backed up in case of malfunction. This does not hinder or obstruct other transactional applications.  Network virtualization is a technology that enables only the intended persons to view and access the system. It also enables multiple network links to be on a single link.

Virtualization in the small and medium enterprises

Many small, as well as medium businesses, have in contemporary times been adopting virtualization technology because of the benefits associated with the technology including, the reduction of time spent on administration of IT as well as the responsiveness of the technology to the business needs. Visualization is known to reduce and manage risks of data loss and data outages. Disasters, accidents or emergencies can lead to data loss, including the details of lost sales or customers. Virtualization can increase the disaster recovery time, thereby improving the business recovery and continuity preparedness (Dittner & Rule, 2007). Many small and medium enterprises are implementing the visualization technology and others who have not yet virtualized have been expressing interest to do so.

Many of the small and medium businesses have cited virtualization to help in cost, security, and application. In this, some of the cited benefits of virtualization to the SMBs include the reduction of time spent on administration tasks virtualization has also been credited with its capability of responding to the changing business needs as well as data protection and backup. This has led to company growth leading to profitability through gains from end-user satisfaction. There is an ease in infrastructure management and other costs, including space costs, hardware costs, power and cooling costs among others. The new software is also easy to use and apply. All these factors help in better server utilization and improved security for data.

Virtualization inhibitors in the SMBs

Despite the many benefits of virtualization, there is a big margin of the small and medium enterprise holders who shy away from implementing the virtualization technology.  Some of the reasons cited by nonadopters of the technology include the lack of enough budgets to employ the technology. Many indicate that they don’t have the right resources. Other stakeholders indicate that they don’t see the benefits of the technology in their systems and therefore may not be able to explain what the returns on such investment will be. At the same time, a lack of know-how on the solution to adopt in the virtualization technology can be a hindrance.


Virtualization technology has been employed by various organizations in order to achieve various goals that include the enhancement of network-enabled devices to access network-accessible applications over any network even though the application was never designed to operate with the type of device. At the same time, virtualization helps to isolate one application from another, thus enhancing the security and manageability of the virtual environment. This has been credited with the benefit of allowing a given workload to continue operating even though it was on a foreign OS. Virtualization also helps to increase the number of people that an application can support. It also decreases the time taken to run an application through optimization of the usage of the single system. This helps to increase reliability of the application even though there was redundancy or malfunctioning of the system.  Despite these facts, virtualization has the disadvantages or drawbacks in that, in case of malfunctioning, there is magnified physical failures and degraded performance. It may also lead to misuse of the technology through duplication and the need complicated root cause analysis. There are various layers of virtualization, which includes access, storage, and application among others.   All in all, the usage of the virtualization technology by organizations varies from one organization to another and is dependent of the solution the organization wants to address. Though virtualization technology has a lot of benefits it should not be blindly accepted, but should be weighed against the benefits and limitations on the solutions expected. To avoid extreme virtualization effects, scalability of the technology should be identified like the maximum devices that the technology can pool together, number of partitions, and the number of address remapping that each device can hold.

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