In the modern age of computing, virtualization plays an important role. The term "virtualization" means creating something virtual or artificial, rather than the actual version. This can include hardware, software, platforms, operating systems, storage, etc. So, as a part of this virtualization industry, there are certain, frequently used terms that all engineers should be aware of.

What Is Virtualization?

Virtualization, as the name suggests, refers to the creation of virtual computer resources. Through virtualization, the workload of a company is made more scalable. This happens by the transformation and segmentation of the current technology being used by the company. The potential of virtualization was discovered many years ago and now it is being used on a diverse variety of system layers, including OS-level, server-level and hardware-level virtualization.

Who Are Virtualization Engineers?

A virtualization engineer is a person who is an expert in the field of virtualization. Many companies and organizations consult them on matters of virtualization. As companies are realizing the importance of virtualization, they are hiring people they can consult for virtualization of their servers, especially people who have expertise in the field.

This term previously meant a person who could just change a server into several VMs. But now, the role has expanded greatly. The person is expected to have deep knowledge of the subject.

Let’s Explain Some Important Terms

In order to be productive, a virtualization engineer must have knowledge of some extremely important virtualization-related terms. Knowledge about these terms is very important for the engineer because he or she will need to use them very frequently.

The eleven most important terms are thus explained in detail in this section.

1. Hypervisor

This is a software platform also known as a virtualization manager. It manages the entire virtualized local environment including instances, memory, OSs, processors and other resources. (To learn more about hypervisors, see Hypervisors 101.)

2. Compute Virtualization

Compute virtualization, also known as server virtualization, is a special type of virtualization which allows the physical servers to be partitioned into many different parts, each in different locations. Each part is termed a virtual server. The locations of the servers are different, and are masked from the users of the network for added security.

Thus, compute virtualization allows the simplification of the server architecture of the IT department of any company. This reduces the maintenance cost of the servers while increasing their security quotient. Also, as the data is backed up in every virtual server, it is very easy to regain any kind of data lost in a disaster, like a virus attack. Compute virtualization has allowed the IT sector to think of newer possibilities in networking, in terms of speed, security and pricing. (For more on server virtualization, see The Benefits of Server Virtualization.)

3. Elastic Flash Storage

Elastic flash storage is a form of elastic cloud storage designed for tackling rapidly changing storage needs. For example, if a famous site links to a less famous one, then suddenly loads of people will visit it. This can lead to huge slowdown or even server crashes.

However, with the help of smart elastic flash storage, this can be prevented to a great extent. It can help in adapting the data and workload according to the number of people, and can request extra cloud data centers if necessary.

4. VM Cluster

A VM cluster is a group of VM servers connected by a network. They are basically the partitions of a single server. Each VM is placed in a different location, which also makes every VM independent of each other. Also, as every server is connected, it is very easy to recover data from any VM, and this allows higher availability. Thus, the server becomes easier to manage and deploy.

5. Cloning

Cloning, as its name suggests, is essentially copying. Indeed, cloning refers to the creation of an exact copy of a specific VM taken as a parent machine. This clone can then be used as a replacement for the VM or can be used by a different server or user.

6. Partitioning

In database virtualization, there are two types of partitioning. These are virtual data partitioning and horizontal data partitioning. In virtual data partitioning, the huge data stores are divided or partitioned into databases. These partitions are very easy to manage and are very small in size too. However, if a horizontal data virtualization layer is put between the databases and the consumers, it’ll be much easier to access the data.

7. Hyper Convergence

A hyper-converged infrastructure is a special type of infrastructure which is completely software-centric. It can integrate storage resources, computing resources, networking resources and virtual resources very efficiently and tightly in a single hardware that is provided and supported by a single vendor.

8. Super Convergence

Super convergence is very similar to the hyper-converged infrastructure. It is also very tightly integrated; however, it is not as tight as hyper convergence, making it a little slower than a hyper-converged infrastructure.

9. Thin Provisioning

Thin provisioning is a virtualization method through which a system can have the appearance of having more powerful resources than it actually possesses. However, if the system actually happens to possess all the resources to support the virtual ones, it isn’t thin provisioned.

10. Snapshot

The snapshot of a virtual machine refers to its state at the time the snapshot was saved, very much like the “save” feature of a video game. It has a copy of each and every program running at the time the snapshot is saved. It also contains the data and the settings of that VM when it is saved. Like the save game feature, it can also be used to save the progress of the VM. The snapshot automatically loads when you start up the virtual machine, so that you don’t have to do your work all over again.

Another use of snapshot is that of disaster recovery. If the data kept inside the virtual machine is corrupted or lost by any means, a snapshot taken before the data corruption or loss can be used to undo the changes easily.

11. Decoupled Storage

Decoupled storage is an important part of decoupled architecture. Decoupled architecture is actually a framework for virtualization where every VM or storage component is completely hidden from each other and is completely autonomous. This allows them to continue working independently of each other, even when another storage component or machine in a location has stopped working.

This allows great flexibility, as only the data in an affected computer is lost. Even this data can be regained easily by the means of snapshots.

Summary

We have discussed some of the most important terms from the virtualization world. Apart from the above terms, there are many other terms which are relevant to virtualization. If you want to excel in your work as a virtualization engineer, then you should have at least some basic knowledge about these terms, and you are also encouraged to keep up with other virtualization terms as well.