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Why virtualization is not just for the big guys


If you ever hear the word virtualization mentioned in a conversation I will bet that you will immediately think of big companies with hundreds , if not thousands of computers, and big data centers.  What if I told you your small business (with maybe only 1-10 employees) could also benefit from virtualization and that in fact it could make you run more efficient and not cost you any extra money.  I shall now explain how.

The basis of virtualization is very simple.  It is the ability to run multiple operating systems on the same physical hardware at the same time.  So for example you could run Windows XP and Windows 7 on the same computer or even Windows 7 running on a Linux system.  Now I  hear you cry “Why would I ever want to do such a thing?” Let me give you some examples.

Imagine a business owner who purchases a Mac for his business.  He intends to use it everyday but then releases that he still needs Windows to run some software.  Now by installing a piece of virtualization software from the likes of VMWare, Parallels or Oracle Virtualbox he will be able to run both Max OS X and Windows 7 at the same time on his system and switching between the two when he needs too.  He now has the best of both worlds.

Now take another business that runs a mission critical piece of software on Windows XP. They decide to upgrade all their machines in the office to Windows 7 and then realise that the business critical software only runs on XP.  What happens now? They can install a piece of software from VMWare called VMWare converter and convert their physical system into a virtual one!! Install VMWare onto their new Windows 7 system and then upload the ‘old’ XP system as a virtual machine.

So what are the benefits of virtualization then?

1. You can run any software you want on any system you like.

2. You are able to run multiple operating systems on the same hardware which in turn cuts down on hardware costs and also electricity costs too.

3. Very easy to backup your systems.  If the virtual machine becomes corrupt you just delete it and reload a backup copy.  Very fast and simple to recover your systems.

4. The software is free.  You can use VMWare Player, Oracle Virtualbox, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen Server or KVM.  The choice is yours!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

Can you run a virtual machine inside a virtual machine?


I spent all yesterday afternoon trying to answer the question can you run a virtual machine inside a virtual machine?

To answer this question I downloaded Vmware Player and  the open source Virtualbox and started ‘playing’.  After a couple of hours I came up with the following.

1. Running a virtual machine (either Linux or Windows) using Vmware Player inside Vmware Player is a non starter as Vmware do not support this.  I tried and got internal monitor errors everytime and then a system crash.

2. Next I tried to run a VMware Player virtual machine inside Linux Mint 11 which was hosted on Virtualbox.  Nope it didn’t like this either as the virtual machine started, got passed the BIOS and then nothing.  Had the same issue with Windows 7.

3. Time to keep going so next I tried to run a Virtualbox virtual machine inside Virtualbox.  Virtualbox spat out the dummy once you got passed the BIOS.  The screen would freeze up and then nothing.  Again I had the same results on both Windows 7 and Linux Mint 11.  I had heard that if you run different versions of Virtualbox you might get it to work so I tried that too.  Again Virtualbox was not playing.

4. Finally I tried running a Virtualbox virtual machine inside VMWare Player.  This configuration got as far as loading the kernel and then hung.  Further research indicated that you can load a different kernel which ‘might’ work.  I didn’t try this.

So to answer the question, no you can’t run a virtual machine inside a virtual machine (as long as you are using either Vmware Player or Virtualbox).  I have not tried the other virtual software options on the market yet.

But now I will ask another question.  Even if you could why would you want to?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

Virtualization

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a storage device or network resources. For example you can run a virtual Windows operating system within an actual Linux system, thereby giving you two working systems on one set of hardware.

Advantages

  • Less hardware is required to run the same amount of software, therefore saving in hardware costs. You could happily run all your applications on one server while running four virtual servers inside it performing other roles.
  • Data recovery is simplified. If your virtual server becomes corrupted then you just delete it and restore from a virtual backup.
  • Allows you to test different software configurations on different platforms before you deploy it.
  • Reduces energy consumption.
  • Improved system reliability and security. Virtualization of systems helps prevent crashes due to memory corruption caused by software like device drivers.


Disadvantages

  • Magnified physical failures. If your main hard drive (or raid configuration) containing all your physical and virtual data goes down you would have to restore all your servers (physical and virtual).
  • Virtualization requires more memory and processing power. This would need to be factored into any virtualization strategy.
  • Training. Administrators might not have the skills necessary to administer a virtual environment.
  • Complex troubleshooting when things don’t work. Is there a issue with the virtual machine or some other problem?

Virtual Software choices

There is a multitude of companies offering their own flavour of virtual software. The main ones are detailed below:

VMWare www.vmware.com

Oracle Virtualbox www.virtualbox.org (ComTech uses this software for both our clients and our own systems)

Microsoft Hyper V www.microsoft.com

Citrix Xen Software www.citrix.com

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

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