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Some companies have been in business for so long that they are still relying on legacy applications in their operational system. This could be for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that there is simply not a better option—at least, not in their eyes. Enter virtual machines, the solution that makes these kinds of businesses possible without severely compromising on network security.
A virtual machine is essentially a virtualized environment that acts very much like a hardware-based machine. Basically, you can use it to emulate computing systems, right down to the virtual hardware that keeps the machine running. A virtual machine runs in a window on your computer’s operating system. So, for example, if you wanted to download a software solution or a different operating system, you could either download it to your computer or to the virtual machine.
The computer running the virtual machines is called the host, whereas the virtual machines themselves are referred to as guests. The “hardware” of the virtual machine is stored on your host computer’s hard drive, and while the guest’s virtual hardware will not be quite as powerful as the real deal, it should be fine for handling a variety of tasks that would otherwise require a painful amount of obsolete (or potentially risky) hardware.
It’s okay if this all goes a little over your head; in its simplest terms, you can think of a virtual machine as a computer within a computer, and as such, there are various things that you can do with a virtual machine that might be difficult without one.
Believe it or not, there are several ways to use virtual machines. In our previous example, a business might use a virtual machine to host a legacy application that they simply cannot bring themselves to replace or one that is not compatible with the latest version of your operating system, but this is certainly not the only use.
Businesses might use a virtual machine to try out a new operating system or test how it runs prior to deployment. This gives businesses the confidence that the new operating system is something that will work with their current infrastructures. Similarly, some applications work better on other platforms than others, and having the flexibility to switch between platforms empowers businesses to use whichever tools best fit their needs, regardless of current circumstances.
One particularly important note is that virtual machines give businesses secure places to test new applications that they are not comfortable with trying out on their current operating system. The instance of the operating system is separate from the host machine and does not allow for any software or data on the virtual machine to influence the host.
If all this talk about virtual machines has you more confused than when you started, don’t worry. Decatur Computers Inc. can help clear things up and discuss how you might apply virtual machines to your business’ infrastructure. To learn more about virtual machines and what they can do for your business, contact us at 217-475-0226.
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