Virtualization: A Desktop That Can Travel With You

Much has been made recently about the pending shift to Cloud computing and how it could bring change to all levels of computer users, from the individual home user to the largest of corporations. At the heart of all of the change, however, lies a concept that has already taken hold across the industry, known as virtualization. The concept is deceptively simple, allowing multiple fully functional operating systems to execute simultaneously on a single piece of hardware. The obvious benefit of such a setup is that end users can maximize their hardware investments by utilizing every available bit of processing and memory power, eliminating the waste of unused resources. For those who have never seen this idea in action, however, it can seem like an incredibly complex arrangement.

The good news is that the major virtualization solution providers are making it easier than ever to understand their platforms, and there are now plenty of simple ways to learn how virtualization can work for you.

One of the simplest examples comes in the form of desktop-based virtual machines. There are many software packages that will allow you to run full versions of other operating systems on top of your existing system. While somewhat inefficient due to sharing all resources with your current system, this kind of setup can allow you to test out new software or server deployments before investing in any new hardware. One of the most versatile tools available for free is the VMWare Player program, which will allow the user to install virtually any operating system for testing purposes on top of their current system.

For users that are already exploring virtualization solutions, there are several services that will allow a free trial to be used as a proof of concept for almost any project. For example, Cloudshare offers an entry level virtual platform that includes access to many of the most popular operating systems and platforms. Within the trial, a user has the ability to configure and deploy full virtual machines, to be used for testing, or even as a means of better understanding the power of virtualization technology.

Services such as Cloudshare can even be used to create a secure, portable desktop that would be accessible via the internet from nearly any device. This kind of functionality can quickly and inexpensively transform a device such as an iPad 2 into a fully portable Microsoft Windows or Linux desktop, complete with file storage and software.

The cost benefits of virtualization can be tremendous, and the rapid advances of technology in the market have made the technology too attractive to ignore. For a technology industry forever focused on flexibility and savings, the available options are nearly limitless.

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