There are several different forms of virtualization that need to be understood as a basis for making the right technology choice:
- Server hardware virtualization. Also known as a hypervisor, server hardware virtualization runs a very lightweight core operating system. The hypervisor can host independent virtual machines (VMs). This form of virtualization requires hardware that has embedded virtualization awareness capabilities. Since the hypervisor is very lightweight, there is little overhead in the system, which allows for more scalability in the VMs.
- Server software virtualization. An operating system, such as Windows Server® 2003 or Windows Server 2008 R2, runs an application that is able to host VMs. Each VM runs a completely separate operating system and application set.
- Session virtualization. Centralized systems host multiple user workloads, and all processing is done on those host systems. Only the presentation information (such as keyboard and mouse inputs and video updates) is sent between the client and the host systems. The client can be a full Windows-based workstation or a Windows-based terminal device.
- Application virtualization. An application is isolated from the underlying operating system by means of wrapper software that encapsulates it. This allows multiple applications that may have conflicting dynamic link libraries (DLLs) or other incompatibilities to run on the same machine without affecting each other.
- Virtualization on the desktop. This is similar to server software virtualization, but it runs on client systems such as Windows® 7 and Windows Vista®. The client operating system runs a virtualization application that hosts VMs. This is often used when a specific person needs to run one or a limited number of legacy applications on a legacy operating system.
The Selecting the Right Virtualization Technology guide enables you to rapidly and accurately select which Microsoft virtualization technology or technologies to use for specific scenarios. There are several different forms of virtualization that need to be understood as a basis for making the right technology choice. This guide addresses the decision steps that need to be taken in order to select the best virtualization approach for specific application requirements.
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The most effective decision points in the sequence are presented for determining which virtualization technology should be used. When considering virtualization for multiple applications, you should iterate through the entire process individually for each type of application.