IT organizations are challenged by the limitations of today’s x86 servers, which are designed to run just one operating system and application at a time. As a result, even small data centers have to deploy many servers, each operating at just 5 to 15 percent of capacity—highly inefficient by any standard. Virtualization uses software to simulate the existence of hardware and create a virtual computer system. Doing this allows businesses to run more than one virtual system – and multiple operating systems and applications -- on a single server. This can provide economies of scale and greater efficiency.
A virtual computer system is known as a “virtual machine” (VM): a tightly isolated software container with an operating system and application inside. Each self-contained VM is completely independent. Putting multiple VMs on a single computer enables several operating systems and applications to run on just one physical server, or “host”. A thin layer of software called a hypervisor decouples the virtual machines from the host and dynamically allocates computing resources to each virtual machine as needed.