Server virtualisation has been essential in the creation of virtual servers such as VPS hosting. By allowing one physical server to be split into several other virtual servers, the server game has been changed forever.
What is server virtualisation?
Server virtualisation is the process by which a single physical server is divided into multiple virtual instances, usually achieved via a software application. For example, if you’re using VPS hosting, then the virtual private server where your project is hosted was created by server virtualisation.
Server virtualisation is also used as a way of masking server resources. This means users don’t have access to sensitive information like the different operating systems at play, how many processors there are, or even the number of physical servers.
How does server virtualisation work?
Isolating a server’s physical hardware is done by a hypervisor – which is a type of software used specifically for creating and running VMs. This hypervisor sits between the server and the new virtual machine, and it virtualises all of the pre-existing physical resources to be used on multiple different VMs. These new virtual servers can then be passed onto anyone who needs them.
Types of server virtualisation
Before we get into the benefits, let’s take a look at the main types of server virtualisation out there. There are three different techniques for server virtualisation, but they all involve the division of a physical server (AKA the “host”) into virtual ones, which are often called “guests”.
Full virtualisation – sometimes called “VM model” virtualisation – uses a type of software called a hypervisor. The hypervisor communicates directly with the host server’s CPU, ensuring that the virtual servers stay secure and independent from one another. Every guest on the host server has its own operating system – you can even run Linux and Windows on neighbouring virtual servers, and they’ll have no knowledge of each other. The other core function of the hypervisor is transferring the right type of resources from the physical server to the virtual ones, in line with their needs.
One slight snag with full virtualisation is that the hypervisor itself uses resources, which can potentially hamper speed and performance.
While para-virtualisation also relies on a hypervisor, the actual process is a little different. The operating systems on the guest servers are all aware of each other, so the hypervisor doesn’t need as much power, as it isn’t necessary to keep the servers completely in the dark.
By contrast, there’s no hypervisor involved with OS-level virtualisation. Instead, the OS on the host server carries out the same function as the hypervisor, but this does mean that the guest servers are required to run on the same operating system in order to work. Plus, if something happens to corrupt the host’s OS, all the virtual servers could be compromised too.
What are the benefits of server virtualisation?
From increased efficiency to reduced costs, there are a lot of advantages to server virtualisation. Here are some of the biggest benefits you can expect:
With server virtualisation, one physical server can become much more efficient, using far more of its processing power by hosting a handful of virtual guest servers. This also reduces the number of physical ones needed in an enterprise.
Reduced operating costs
With fewer physical servers up and running, the hosting provider’s operating costs are bound to go down. Server consolidation should mean your data centres are using less power, making them cheaper to run, and also saving you money on actual server hardware too.
Affordable web hosting
This technology also provides a more affordable web hosting solution, as customers are able to rent a VPS, which is considerably cheaper than hiring a whole physical server for your project.
Better disaster recovery
It’s also easier to manage a virtual server if the worst happens and something goes wrong with your hardware. For example, you can migrate a VM directly over onto another physical server to keep all the data safe, without losing access.
Uses of server virtualisation
Server virtualisation has a number of key use cases that make it a cornerstone of both VPS and cloud server technology.
Support for multiple operating systems
As we mentioned before, one of the biggest advantages of server virtualisation is that it can support multiple platforms on a single server. This gives organisations the flexibility to run Windows right alongside Linux, or any other operating systems they need to make use of.
A redundant server is effectively a duplicate. Historically, redundancy referred to another physical server running the same application as your primary one, so it could be used in the event of a hardware failure. With server virtualisation, you can practise redundancy without buying additional physical servers, using a neighbouring virtual one instead.
Testing and development
This technology also gives developers the flexibility to run tests without affecting the production environment. With a quick cloning process, they can create an identical VM, where they can safely experiment with changes and software updates in a test environment.
Now you know more about server virtualisation
It’s virtualisation technology that makes our VPS Hosting possible – and this is one of the most popular web hosting options on the market, particularly for SMBs who have outgrown shared hosting plans, but don’t have the budget for a dedicated server.