What is virtualization?
“It’s when you have a computer that is, um.. virtualized.. and it’s all like ‘Hey.. I’m running on my own hardware’, but really it’s not.”
Okay.. what you’ve described there is a kind of virtualization. I’d call it Machine Virtualization. And there are other kinds such as Desktop Virtualization and Application Virtualization. What’s common about all of those is that there is a disconnecting of something that was once tightly connected. Operating Systems that were running directly, and with sole ownership of hardware are now running on “machines” that can be picked up and moved around without caring about the physical box they’re running on. Desktops can run as sessions on local or remote servers. Applications can be “installed”, but not really, so that they can be simply copied locally and run easily in their own sandboxes, and yet be configured, managed, and updated centrally.
And now: Networks can move from place to place.
“Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?” (reference)
The idea is that, like virtual machines, a virtual network (that is, a defined subnet that allows computers to communicate with one another) can be defined that allows you maintain networks of computers that reside in many different physical locations and still maintain their network configurations. Or place them on physical infrastructures without concern for the other “networks” that use the same wire, because they will never be able to see each other.
“Sounds cool. But what is it good for?”
This is going to allow some pretty amazing flexibility and convenience. For example, your hosting provider won’t require you to re-address the virtual machines you’re moving out of your datacenter and into theirs, because you’re simply extending your existing network. And they’re able to securely allow this because, even though there may be other customers of theirs running on their network fabric that have similar IP addressing schemes to yours, the “networks” won’t conflict.
There is soon coming a day when businesses will define their networks of virtualized resources as logical entities on top of what could span many physical boundaries, all so that they can take advantage of the flexibility for resource distribution that this provides.
This may be a new concept for many of you. Are you intrigued? Have any questions? That’s what the comments are for.