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There aren’t many people aware of what Virtual machine is all about. Though, with some free VM hosting out there, the trend has experienced a change, there still remains a large group completely unaware of the term. The trend is not the same among web administrators whom we have seen counting Virtual Machines (VM) as one of the vital organs of app and website development.

A Virtual machine can be exceptionally rewarding, provided you know the “where and how?” of its implementation.

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Virtual Machines

Before I started tech-blog, I wrote reviews for a number of software trial-running them on my powerful computer that I had assembled over time. A lot of software that I tested were Beta-released programs and my machine often ran into a number of glitches that sometimes took a few weeks to resolve. It was then that I came to know about virtual machines. Though it has been more than a decade, I still find VM an essential tool as an individual.

A virtual machine basically creates a sandboxed environment within another environment. This allows the new environment to run as if it were an independent one; neither is the host machine able to detect that its resources have started to be utilized elsewhere.

This was one aspect that we all exploited - or to be appropriate, utilized, to our advantage. Virtual machines allowed me to create a parallel platform, co-existing with the host Operating System, to test-run applications. As a result, my computer rarely ran into glitches. Though I was invaded by malware once while trying to run an application, I could use my host machine without noticing any tangible difference.

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Free VM hosting - potential as a business tool

There is a lot that you can do, even with a free VM hosting. Most providers are not very prohibitive of the services that free clients avail, though they may have some hidden conditions.

Cost-effectiveness

To say that VM hosting costs nothing would be way too optimistic, but it definitely saves pennies. Companies, especially the new ones, are constrained with funds and do not spend a buck extra on anything. Setting up a new machine to run a software shall bring down a bolt of lightning upon them, given the cost linked to it.

A wiser move would be to use an existing server with enough free space to accommodate the virtual machine.

Better utilization of resources

I was, at one point, astonished to know my computer only used 25-30% of its processing capabilities, even though I had spent years of earnings in building such high RAID configuration. IT is an industry dominated by artifice, and I felt cheated.

Given the fact that you pay for the complete hardware, and not for the utilized 25%, the remaining resources should also be worked on in other tasks. Deploying a virtual machine will engage the hardware with additional applications and the resources will be utilized more efficiently.

Security measures

I deliberately ran an application infected with malware once while in a virtual system. Though there existed several advanced malware, then, that could break in to the host from the VM, I was pretty sure this malware wasn’t one from the lot. I was eager to know the damage it (malware) was capable of inflicting when concealed within an application. My VM environment was totalled, but the host machine worked fine as if nothing ever happened. Even if I had run the infected program on my host machine, the virtual environment would have remained unaltered.

Many organizations deploy virtual machines to safeguard data from theft - be it cyber or physical. VMs provide an added layer of security that can have its own firewall and filters, snowballing the security to two-fold in the process.

Eased moving

There is no other platform that facilitates moving files as easily as virtual machines do. This allowed me to use my files every time my system ran into errors. All documents in a virtual environment are stored under a single file, which can then be copied and played in a virtual environment on a different machine. A regular operating system has numerous files within various directories; then there are sub-directories, ‘.dll’, extensions, and various other files. This allows little scope for running in an external machine as all the data is to be copied in the exact same order, and at the top of it the external machine could run into bugs trying to boot these files up.

Limitations while running a VM

It isn’t that you can establish a virtual environment on any machine, there are some key considerations to be made while doing so:

Amount of resources free

If there are enough free resource, setting up VM is not going to be much of an issue. However, machines crammed up with tasks do not have enough free CPU, or even if it has some free resource, the applications will run painfully slow post-deployment of a virtual environment.

Performance dip

One thing I noted with my high-end computer was every time I added a virtual environment, my pre-existing applications shied from performing the way they used to before the deployment of VM. The fact is indeed, true. With a VM, the server is handling more tasks running concurrently, skewing the efficiency with which it ran. Though, when running idle with a VM, there wasn’t much notable difference, but it is almost insignificant, given the servers in an organization are never idle and are up 24 hours a day.

Cloud-ready but not without cost

What has made VM a vigorous IT tool is that it comes tailored for future-ready cloud computing, but this has not been achieved without the cost. Hence, organizations are forced to move to cheap cloud computing and often compromise on various key-attributes like security and reliability. This adoption of cheap cloud server defeats the whole philosophy behind cloud – to make servers reliable and secure.

Advanced threats

When I look back to our college days, there were not as many threats as there are today. Though threat detection and elimination tech have gained some momentum now, cyber attackers have up-ed their game, too. I recently came across an individual in my forum who tried running a Trojan-infected program that broke-in to his host system and wrecked his machine.

Virtual environments are still as secure as it was back then, only the threats have advanced a bit.

Is VM an organization-worthy tool?

Virtual machines are not new to organizations, and have enjoyed their share of preferences over physical servers. Companies do not spend a penny extra on anything, especially on acquiring resources that pre-exist. As in my case, I used virtual environment to save money, organizations deploy a virtual environment to utilize their current server to its potential before establishing a new one.

Moreover, more the machines, more is the staff required for its maintenance, and more is the cost. One of the reasons why cloud servers are so fondly adopted is cheap cloud computing is a nouveau solution to servers, and requires no additional workforce at the organization’s end.

How can individuals reap benefits out from VM?

There are several VM applications available at zero cost that can split your desktop into two or as many as you desire. You can run software, or games that are now discontinued, by launching an older version of a compatible operating system. Or if you want to run a malware for fun, or out of curiosity, you can do that, too. If there are files you want to hide/backup, a virtual machine application will come inevitably to you.

Some popular programs to choose from are: Parallels Desktop, Oracle VM VirtualBox, and VMware Workstation Player.

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Round-it-up

It is always better to try your hands with technology before committing yourself into one completely. We offer free VM hosting you can try dabbling with at the start. If still unsure of how Virtual machines can benefit you, you can contact our support staff here.