Virtual Machines: A Closer Look
Cynexlink Blog • August 18, 2017
Virtual machines, or VMs, have become integral parts of business-oriented computing. A virtual machine acts as an emulator of a computer, executing programs like one.
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In summary, it is a piece of software that allows you to run operating systems within. It can give a company adaptability, in that, any networking configurations or installed applications will be set up separately from the host computer, but rather will dwell in the software.
While there are many progressive advantages to implementing virtual machines, there are also some disadvantages:
- Can use multiple operating system environments on the same computer.
- Virtual machines can provide an instruction set architecture, or ISA, structure different than the actual computer. The ISA serves as the interface between software and hardware.
- When you create your virtual machine, you create a virtual hard disk. So, everything on that machine can crash, but if it does, it won’t affect the host machine.
- There are security benefits to running virtual machines. For example, if you need to run an application of questionable security, you can run it in a guest operating system. So, if the application causes damage, then it will be only temporary after the guest is shut down. Virtual machines also allow for better security forensics by monitoring guest operating systems for deficiencies and allowing the user to quarantine it for analysis.
- Virtual machines are less efficient than real machines because they access the hardware indirectly. Running software on top of the host operating system means that it will have to request access to the hardware from the host. That will slow the usability.
- When several virtual machines are running on the same host, performance may be hindered if the computer it’s running on lacks sufficient power. Your virtual machine still uses the resources of your host machine. The more powerful the host computer, the more quickly the virtual machine will run.
- A virtual machine can be infected with the weaknesses of the host machine. As an example, process isolation is a feature usually employed by operating systems. However, there are bugs that violate it. A regular computer devoid of virtual machines would then only be affected. But, a computer with a number of virtual machines would then infect each of those “machines” as well.
So, the main reason a company would use a virtual machine is if they need to run separate operating systems on the same computer. This can be for a number of reasons, including if the current system isn’t sufficient for the needs of the company’s goals.
A knowledgeable and tenured IT firm can help a company navigate the terrain of choosing the right virtual machine to suit business demands. A good IT firm can also aid in making sure the system runs smoothly and efficiently, while constantly monitoring for performance and IT security.
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