Many companies have been in business for so long that they still utilize legacy applications for specific purposes within their computing infrastructure. There simply might not be a better option at the time, so they continue to rely on software that is, quite frankly, showing its age, including the server software that runs their business. Virtual machines offer these organizations the opportunity to still leverage these applications without the inherent risk that comes from using unsupported software.
You can think of a virtual machine as a virtual environment that simulates a hardware-based machine using software. It allows you to emulate the computing system, complete with virtual hardware that keeps the machine running. A virtual machine can run in a window on your computer’s operating system, typically a web browser, giving the user the choice of where and how to run a specific instance of an application. For example, let’s say you want to download a new program. You can install it on either your computer or on a virtual machine.
The computer running the virtual machine is referred to as the host, whereas the virtual machine is called the guest. The device’s “hardware” is stored on the host computer’s hard drive; generally speaking, the guest’s virtual hardware will not be as powerful as the host, but it should be fine for certain tasks that would require obsolete or unsecured hardware.
To simplify this even further, a virtual machine is basically a computer within a computer, and it grants users a certain level of creativity and flexibility that might not otherwise be possible with an ordinary machine.
There are many ways to use a virtual machine. The previously mentioned example included using a virtual machine to host a legacy application that might not be compatible with your operating system; this might be one of the more common ways to use virtual machines, but it is far from the only way to use one.
Some businesses use virtual machines to try out new operating systems or test the deployment of various software or configurations. This gives businesses confidence that they can use their new solutions in the best way possible. On a similar note, some applications work better on certain platforms, so having the ability to switch between them as needed gives organizations the opportunity to switch their approach as needed as well.
One especially helpful use for virtual machines is that they can give businesses a safe environment to test new applications outside of their current operating system. This helps because the virtual machine’s operating system is separate from the host machine, meaning that it does not allow for any software or data on the virtual machine to influence the host.
If you want to get started with virtual machines but don’t want to be bothered by the nitty-gritty, We Define IT can help. To learn more about how we can help you implement and take advantage of virtual machines, reach out to us at 888-234-WDIT (9348).
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