What Is A Virtual Machine, And How To Use It?
Do you want to run multiple Operating Systems on a single computer? It’s time to rent a Virtual Machine that offers you the flexibility to install different OS like Windows or Linux! Virtual Machines, or VMs in short, are virtual computers within real computers. Does it sound confusing to you? Let’s explore everything you need to know about VMs and how they work!
WHAT IS A VM?
Consider the virtual machine (VM) as a portable computing environment. It comes with pre-defined software configurations and hypervisor-managed resources allocated from a physical server. As it is a virtual representation of a physical computer, it utilizes the power of the physical machine as the host.
The concept of ‘Virtualization’ enables the physical server to create multiple Virtual Machines, each with unique OS configurations and applications. Point to note: these VMS use the ‘hypervisor’ software layer to coordinate with the physical server hardware. While the VMs can go by many names, including VSI and Virtual Server, let’s explore the key functionalities and how to use Virtual Machine next!
THE CONCEPT OF VIRTUALIZATION: How DO VMs WORK?
Virtual Machines operate independently using the memory and storage components of the private server. But how does the physical server distribute its hardware components among the Virtual Servers? It uses a hypervisor (a bare metal server) to custom-configure each VM with independent components and Operating System configurations.
Virtualization enables each of the new VMs to run the software applications independently. So, the hypervisor acts as a Configuration Manager for all Virtual Machines. This isolation enables efficient resource management across all environments.
What Are The Two Types Of Hypervisors?
The software layer of a hypervisor comes in the following types:
Type 1: Bare Metal
It runs seamlessly on the physical hardware and acts as the main OS of the server. It provides a lightweight virtualization layer to separate server components into multiple VMs. Type 1 hypervisors include VMware vSphere and Microsoft HyperV.
Type 2: Hosted
This type of hypervisor does not act as the OS of the physical server. Instead, type 2 hypervisors install as software using the server’s Operating System. So, hypervisors like VMWare Workstation and Oracle VirtualBox are used mainly for desktop virtualization.
WHY SHOULD BUSINESSES USE VIRTUAL MACHINES?
Before we explore how to use Virtual Machine, let's understand why modern enterprises must use virtual machines over physical servers! Virtual machines offer equal computing power as any physical server. They are part of modern infrastructure that supports containerization, automation, and rapid development.
Advantages Of Virtual Machines:
Self-contained systems: As multiple VMs can share a single host hardware, they can operate simultaneously without impacting each other. You can even install different OS environments across different VMs running on the same physical server!
Less maintenance: VMs are flexible to expand, shrink, or move to another infrastructure! Even decommissioning a VM doesn’t impact the background environment operations. As a result, it minimizes system downtime and allows easy maintenance.
Fast deployment: Virtual machines are easy to deploy across hybrid and cloud environments using virtualization. In fact, cloud architects can use the same VM template or image to create multiple VMs with similar configurations.
Supported OS types: Now you know what is a VM, it’s time to explore different OS types supported by Virtual Servers:
• Ubuntu: A popular, user-friendly Linux distribution for diverse applications.
• Debian: Known for stability, a choice for open-source enthusiasts.
• CentOS: Enterprise-grade Linux distribution with long-term support.
• Windows: Runs Microsoft Windows OS, essential for Windows-specific tasks.
• Linux Distributions: Various Linux flavors beyond Ubuntu, Debian, and CentOS.
• Container OSes: Designed for efficient container orchestration.
• Custom OS Images: Full control over the OS environment for customization.
Resource Utilization: VMs maximize hardware usage by reducing the need for new server purchases. VMs also allow easy scaling to meet increased workloads and enhance system responsiveness.
Drawbacks Of Virtual Machines:
• It can be a bit costly to run and rent Virtual Machine from a Cloud Service Provider.
• VM performance relies on the host machine resources that can produce stability issues.v
• VMs are less hardware-efficient and often considered slower for IT firms.
• VMs involve complex systems with multiple local area networks.
• Running multiple virtual machines can lead to unexpected outcomes.
INTRODUCING VIRTUAL PRIVATE SERVER (VPS) HOSTING FOR BUSINESSES:
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a Virtual Machine that acts as an isolated virtual environment. Like any other VM, it also uses the hardware components of a physical server. However, the Virtual Machine provider manages and operates the Virtual Machine hosting on behalf of the businesses.
VPS hosting is one type of Web Hosting that offers enterprises a fully-virtualized server environment. It utilization virtualization concept to partition the single server components into multiple Virtual Servers. Each of these Virtual Machines is a Virtual Private Server or VPS. So, businesses can easily get dedicated servers with complete customization options.
What Are the Benefits of Virtual Machine Hosting?
• VMs create isolated environments to eliminate resource conflicts and ensure consistent performance.
• The virtual server can optimize hardware utilization by running multiple VMs on a single physical server.
• The VM snapshots and live migrations can minimize downtime and enhance system reliability.
• Virtual Private Servers are cost-effective solutions as compared to dedicated servers.
How To Use Virtual Machine Server Hosting?
First, let’s take a look at the probable use cases of the Virtual Machine:
• Cloud Computing: VMs are the core unit for scalable applications in cloud environments, ensuring versatility.
• Supporting DevOps: Developers use VM templates to streamline software testing, enhancing the DevOps process.
• Investigating Malware: VMs provide fresh environments for malware analysis and testing. VMs can also access virus-infected data securely.
• Secure Browsing: VMs offer safe web browsing with snapshot-based session rollbacks for security.
• App Development and Deployment: VMs facilitate app development, testing, and cloud deployment.
• Trying New OS Versions: VMs ease experimentation with new OS releases, including beta versions.
• Cross-Platform Software: VMs run software on unintended OSes, expanding compatibility.
Now, if you plan to use the virtual machine server, you can follow the below steps:
• Select The Operating System: First, understand the differences of different Operating Systems. Next, choose the operating system that best suits your needs and aligns with your application requirements.
• Set The Configuration: Define the VM's hardware resources, including CPU cores, RAM allocation, and storage capacity. You can also customize the network settings for connectivity.
• Installing Software: Install the necessary software and applications within the virtual machine to support your specific tasks. Also, check the software compatibility with the chosen the operating system before installation.
• Data Management: Store application data within the virtual server. You can also utilize external storage solutions from the Virtual Machine provider.
• Security Controls: You should take adequate security measures and set up firewalls and antivirus software to protect your Virtual Server from future security risks.
What is the difference between Cloud Hosting and Virtual Machines?
Cloud hosting and VPS hosting aren’t the same. Even though both are cloud-hosted environments, cloud hosting is completely dependent on the cloud service provider. In the case of Virtual Machine hosting, the service providers offer a virtual partition from a single physical server. Still confused about the two? Listing below the primary differences for a better understanding:
|Aspect||Cloud Hosting||VPS Hosting (Virtual Private Server)|
|Resource Allocation||Resources are dynamically allocated based on demand.||VMs have predefined, dedicated resources.|
|Scalability||Easily scales resources up or down to meet changing workloads.||Scalability depends on the VPS plan's capacity.|
|Management||Managed by the cloud provider; users focus on applications.||Users have more control over VPS configuration and management.|
|Cost Model||Pay-as-you-go or subscription-based pricing; users pay for actual usage.||Costs are typically fixed, with predefined resource allocations.|
|Performance||Performance can vary based on cloud provider and shared resources.||Performance is more consistent and predictable due to dedicated resources.|
|Security||Cloud providers handle infrastructure security.||Users are responsible for VPS security, including OS updates.|
|Flexibility||Offers a wide range of services beyond VPS, such as databases and serverless.||Primarily provides VPS instances with customization within those VMs.|
|Portability||Can migrate between different cloud providers but may require adjustments.||VPS instances are less portable and are typically hosted by a single provider.|
|Hardware Ownership||Users don't own or manage the underlying hardware.||Users have greater control over their allocated VPS hardware.|
|Use Cases||It is ideal for startups, small businesses, and those needing rapid scalability.||Suitable for businesses requiring more control over their hosting environment.|
In summary, we can say that cloud hosting is a broader concept that encompasses various infrastructure-related and platform-related services. The key difference lies in the cloud's flexibility, as it provides not only VMs but also managed services. On the contrary, VM hosting offers more control and customization to businesses.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT VIRTUAL MACHINE PROVIDER?
Before you select the ideal virtual machine (VM) hosting provider, consider the below factors for selecting the VPS hosting services:
Assee The Offered Performance And Scalability
Compare the performance capabilities of the VM to determine whether the server can handle your intended applications and processes effectively. Additionally, the hosting provider should offer easy scalability options to adapt to future demands
Check Virtualization Software & Server Specifications
Performance and scalability are closely linked to the hardware specifications of the underlying physical server. You must consider the following server components:
• RAM: More RAM equates to better multitasking and faster data access.
• CPU: A powerful CPU with multiple cores ensures efficient server performance.
• Storage: SSDs and NVMe storage technology deliver faster server performance.
You must understand the resource allocation as your VM shares these hardware resources with others. Therefore, consider both your allocated resources and bandwidth.
Server Redundancy & Disaster Recovery
Server redundancy minimizes downtime by setting up backup servers to support the primary one. Load-balancing systems create replicas of the main server to distribute tasks evenly and improve server performance. So, you must choose a hosting plan with an appropriate backup retention policy and disaster recovery plans.
Pricing and Cost Structure or How to Rent a VM?
The Virtual Machine provider must offer transparent pricing models so that you get clarity about the incurred costs. Beware of hidden costs, such as VM maintenance, bandwidth overage charges, and backup-related expenses. You must assess the value of additional services offered by the provider compared to any extra charges.
Support and Customer Service for rented virtual machine:
Lastly, find out how effective the customer support is from the Virtual Machine hosting provider. You must opt for a 24/7 support model with faster response times and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). It will help in quicker issue resolution and continuous server monitoring.
Virtual Machines are indispensable tools for businesses seeking efficient resource utilization, scalability, and flexibility. So, knowing what is a VM and what are the use cases isn’t enough! When choosing a VM hosting provider, you must prioritize your infrastructure requirements and assess the hosting provider based on the previously-discussed factors. With proper configuration and management, VMs can revolutionize your computing experience. Consider incorporating virtualization into your IT strategy and propel your operations to new heights!