One of the hottest topics in web hosting these recent years has been that thing we know as virtualization. Most of you have probably already heard about it but we are also pretty sure that not all of you know exactly what it is and what its benefits respective downsides are. To be the helpful resource that we are, that is at least how we would like to consider ourselves, we have created a short guide that hopefully will straighten out all of your question marks.

The easy explanation

Let us begin with the first, and probably most obvious, question: what is virtualization? There are quite a few different explanations on the web and here is our contribution to the growing pile. Virtualization is a concept of physical resources which means that one single powerful computer is able to run simultaneously on a number of operating systems. In web hosting this is probably best known as Virtual Private Servers. Remember though that this only concern what is referred to as Server Virtualization – there is also Storage Virtualization, which is somewhat similar but are not going to make any further attempts at explaining it.

What about the benefits?

Our explanation was not perhaps the easiest to interpret but we think that it will be a clearer once you hear the benefits with virtualization.

You will not need as many machines as each machine will get used to the fullest with virtualization. Nowadays machines often only use 10-15% of its capacity and with virtualization you will be able to increase percentage to somewhere around 90-95%. This will not only save money when it comes to hardware but it will also save you money on your energy bill. This is because you will not need as many machines and hence save in on the amount of energy that gets used. If you only have to use 40 machines instead of 100 it is going to make a world of difference. The last great benefit that is worth mentioning is the fact that virtualization makes administration much easier. At least generally speaking.

The downsides of virtualization

There are, as with most technologies, also a couple of downsides with virtualization that might be good to know. Even though it is true that you will need fewer computers they do have to be pretty strong to manage performing all the tasks. Old and semi-reliable computers are not going to be able to do the trick. There are, unfortunately, a couple applications that cannot be run a virtualized environment since they require a dedicated machine to operate. The biggest downside with virtualization however is that if the hardware itself crashes – so will all of your virtualized operating systems.

We hope that we have not scared you away from virtualization as it is a qualitative alternative that comes highly recommended. It is just better knowing all the facts ahead.