Think of a Virtual Machine as a computer within a computer. VMs allow us to open up an application window on our computer and utilize the functionality of another computer. In short, VMs imitate the behavior of another computer. Entering into a VM requires network connectivity, log-in credentials, and a computer. Once inside the VM environment, the user has access to the same applications, user interface, and settings as if it were your own computer. Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of what VMs are, let’s dive into some of the benefits of using virtual machines:
There is great flexibility and personalization with virtual machines. No two environments have to be exactly the same; finance can have a different virtual environment than that of marketing. Likewise, depending on the user and their title, a virtual machine can be configured to maintain user defined settings for each session or can be configured to reset those settings at the beginning of each session.
Virtualization involves using software to creating a “virtual”, non-physical form or copy of something. This includes the reproduction of hardware in a digitally accessible manner. VMs can transform a workplace into a more mobile, flexible workplace where traditional hardware is replaced with virtual environments, infrastructure, and storage. Employees can access these virtual environments from anywhere at any time, allowing businesses to forgo the upfront costs of expensive hardware.
With virtual machines, businesses can backup or store data one VM at a time. Instead of backing up individual files, the entire virtual machine can be backed up altogether. Remember, the VM is not locally hosted on the computer itself; instead all of the data and files used within the VM are accessed over a network like the internet. This model allows businesses to replicate or backup entire VMs at a time.
Since virtual machines can be backed up one VM at a time, the recovery/failover process is made much easier. Businesses not only can seamlessly failover to VMs, but can restore those VM’s quickly and efficiently, making file and application access simple. This can help reduce downtime in the face of error or disaster.
VM’s allow users to work in multiple environments. For example, Microsoft Office users can run a Mac operating system or vice versa thanks to virtual machines. It’s not just about running multiple operating systems, either. Users can utilize certain applications within the VM without having to provision it on their local computers. This saves IT professionals time, allowing them to work on patching, updating and testing the application, or even focus on other core competency projects.
Software updates are performed by the service provider that administers the VM. If there are new updates to the operating system, the service provider also manages those updates so that the end user’s environment is always up to date. Applications that your employees use within the VM are also updated by the service provider, not your own IT team. This is what is referred to as Desktop as a Service and can save your IT team hours of monotonous updates.
Virtual machines can be time and money savers for many businesses. It allows businesses to be flexible, create mobile work forces, and virtualize work environments. More and more businesses are using virtual machines due to the simplicity for end users and IT professionals alike. Here at Otava, we are built on VMware where we have VM backup and recovery solutions ready to roll out for your business.