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A variety of technologies for managing computer resources by providing a software interface, known as an "abstraction layer," between the software (operating system and applications) and the hardware. Virtualization turns "physical" RAM and storage into "logical" resources. Following are the ways virtualization is used. See logical vs. physical.

Hardware Virtualization
Partitioning the computer's memory into separate and isolated "virtual machines" simulates multiple machines within one physical computer. It enables multiple copies of the same or different operating systems to run in the computer and also prevents applications from interfering with each other. See virtual machine and OS virtualization.

Network and Storage Virtualization
In a network, virtualization consolidates multiple devices into a logical view so they can be managed from a single console (see network virtualization). Virtualization also enables multiple storage devices to be accessed the same way no matter what their type or location (see storage virtualization).

Application Virtualization
Computer people love the word "virtualization," and vendors use the term for virtually anything. Numerous technologies fall under the umbrella of "application virtualization," some of which have been around for decades, while others are at the forefront. See application virtualization.
References in periodicals archive ?
First Generation Block Storage Virtualization Architectures
Basically a way to share hardware between applications, virtualization allows the "pooling" of resources that results in consolidating hardware, maximizing the use of the remaining hardware.
In order to provide a useful understanding of the real world drivers, use cases, and outcomes from desktop virtualization, application virtualization, and other endpoint virtualization technologies, EMA conducted a detailed survey of current endpoint virtualization deployments, collected multiple interviews with real world users of desktop virtualization, application virtualization, and other endpoint virtualization technologies, and provided case studies with deep insight and qualitative analysis into various endpoint virtualization technologies.
This Research Report into virtualization is without doubt the most important and most extensive primary research into virtualization to date, and the first to provide long-term, data-driven analyses of trends from 2006-2008, and forecasts from 2008-2010.
NAS virtualization switches break the physical static mapping between clients and their storage recourses, decoupling the logical location from the physical location of the data.
Virtualization is a rapidly growing, but sometimes over-hyped, technology.
These roadblocks, however, have now been pushed aside with one of the major vendors launching an intelligent switch-based storage virtualization solution with general availability of the product planned for 2006.
All too frequently, the general concept of virtualization is equated with the specifics of server virtualization.
The virtualization software manages the virtual infrastructure and provides many flexible options and capabilities that support a disaster recovery environment and address the RTO component of the solution or plan.
The latest release of HP's strategic UNIX operating environment, HP-UX 11i v3, makes virtualization easier to deploy and delivers mission-critical virtualization by combining virtualization and mainframe-class availability.
The first question any adopter of storage virtualization (or any new technology for that matter) should ask is very simple--is the pain I am experiencing and hope to alleviate with this new solution significant enough to warrant the additional effort in deploying it?