February 25, 2011, 11:46 AM — Virtualization isn't just for geeks or those who run enormously powerful servers. It offers something for everybody, and if you haven't yet dipped your toe into the virtualization ocean, then you're at serious risk of being left behind.
In its strictest sense, virtualization refers to running two or more operating systems one one physical PC. Either the multiple operating systems run side-by-side, with a separate piece of software called a hypervisor used to manage them, or one operating system runs the other operating systems within program windows. The former is usually limited to servers, with the latter finding common use on desktop computers.
Companies including VMware and Oracle lead the way in this kind of virtualization with their products for workstations and servers. There are even some highly capable free-of-charge versions in the form of Oracle's VirtualBox and VMware Player, both for desktop PCs, and VMware vSphere for server-grade virtualization.
However, there's also Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which is an entirely different technology. This is where client computers log in to a server and access their own desktop environments, all of which is hosted on the server computer. Usually the remote desktops appear in program windows on the client computers, but mobile devices such as tablets are increasingly being used to access desktop virtualization, too.
For example, Citrix XenDesktop allows hundreds of client computers to log in to a single (usually very powerful) server via remote connections. Each user has their own account and therefore their own personal workspace, plus applications.
Here are 10 things you can do with virtualization that might convince you that it's worth giving it a try, if you haven't already.
1. Run Old Apps