Converting a Physical Machine to a Virtual Machine

by Ali Adan

For numerous years, the Beacon has run a Tech Talk column, for which Howard
Burpee’s Senior Seminar class in Computer Technology would write the columns.
Professor Burpee retired last spring and our source of Tech Talk columns dried out
as well. As the Beacon wanted to keep Tech Talk alive, we have gone back into
our email archives and are now running columns we couldn’t run when we received
them initially, because… well, we simply received too many at a time. Please enjoy
the “From the Tech Talk Archives”, as it runs throughout the semester.

This article will be about converting a physical machine to a virtual machine. One technology that many people still take for granted today is virtualization. Virtualization is the creation of a virtual rather than actual version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources. It wasn’t that long ago when it was a challenge to run more than a few virtual machines on a single machine. Those days are long gone as virtualization has become a mainstay in all areas of computing.

A virtual machine uses a combination of software and your existing computer to emulate additional computers, all within one physical device. Virtual machines provide the ability to emulate a separate operating system (the guest), and therefore a separate computer, from right within your existing OS (the host). This independent instance
appears in its own window and is typically isolated as a completely standalone environment, although interactivity between guest and host is often permitted for tasks such as file transfers.

One of the greatest advantage of server virtualization is cost. In addition to energy savings and lower capital expenses due to more efficient use of your hardware resources, you get high availability of resources, better management, and improved disaster-recovery processes with a virtual infrastructure. If you’re strapped for space, then consolidating a number of physical machines into Virtual machines would makes a lot of sense.

As hardware ages, companies can decide to upgrade or consider P2V. A great time to look at doing this is when you’re working to phase out aging or legacy hardware. Creating a VM that’s hardware agnostic can go a long way toward making life easier for IT. Consolidating the physical location of systems also makes backup and disaster recovery easier and more reliable. In short, consolidation makes your entire IT infrastructure easier to manage. Not only will you save space by consolidating systems, but you’ll need less hardware in the future. You will also save on power and repair costs. Some may
point to the fact that having fewer servers to manage may result in less headaches for the IT guys.

Another great way to use virtual machines is that you can use it to create a test
environment for your company. Your developers are probably already running multiple virtual machines on which they test their code. This allows the developers to test new software and component changes before they can cause issues with your live environment. This can be especially helpful if an employee comes to you and demands to use untested software while on the company’s network.

The virtual machine gives you the opportunity to test it out before giving
permission. And if the software or hardware fails, the virtual machines can save you time instead of losing a day’s worth of work and having to start all over again, and If you don’t already have a virtual machine test environment, you might be surprised on how often you would use it.

Ali Adan is a member of the Information Technology Senior Seminar course and is planning on a career in System Administrator. To get more information about me, please visit my website: [ http://tinyurl.com/yczlzd9k ].

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