Let us begin with what is a hypervisor? A hypervisor function or process is used by the system administrators to isolate the hardware from the applications and operating system. Cloud computing has significantly evolved and allows multiple VMs or Virtual Machines as guest operating systems in today’s systems. Thus, hypervisors separate the physical computing resources like the CPU, RAM, etc., by creating visualization layers.
The history of these hypervisors began with IBM (International Business Machines Corporations) providing systems on a timeshare basis, leveraging the hypervisor function to provide the new isolated operating systems with better testing opportunities for the hardware and software. The developers then used virtualization techniques for program testing without affecting the primary system. By mid-2000, Linux, Unix, and other systems started using these techniques and hypervisors for experimental software and hardware testing through virtualization.
Rapid technological developments meant better processing power, multiple workload machines products, etc., and when in 2005 the x86-powered CPUs offered hardware virtualization, hypervisors became an underlying cloud computing function. Since then, the hypervisor virtualization techniques have improved security, cost savings, reduced downtimes, high resilience, efficient deployment speeds, and resource provisioning.
There are two basic types of hypervisors, such as:
- Native/Bare Metal Hypervisors or Type 1 Hypervisors: These hypervisors are host hardware deployed with direct access. Since there are no device drivers or OS connected to the hypervisor, it serves enterprise computing efficiently and makes the hardware inherently secure from any vulnerabilities in the OS. Some examples of this type of hypervisors are Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, Xen, Oracle VM, and more.
- Hosted or Type 2 Hypervisor: This hypervisor uses a traditional OS to run applications making it very useful to security professionals, developers, users, professionals, etc., who access only OS applications and versions. Some examples of this type of hypervisors are Workstation and Server from VMware, KVM, Virtual PC from Microsoft, QEMU, VirtualBox from Oracle VM, etc.
The Type-1 hypervisor does not need a base server OS and has hardware resources like memory, CPU, Networks, storage capacity, etc. Since there is no external hardware involved, these hypervisors are more secure. The primary issue faced in their use is that they have to use a separate dedicated machine to instruct, control, and perform on the VMs host hardware.
The Type-2 hypervisor, on the other hand, uses a Host OS or host software on a physical machine. The hypervisor here can run as a guest OS with the host machine with improved efficiency. The disadvantage is that the lack of its hardware leaves it vulnerable to performance issues and security threats through a guest login. That’s why Type-1 is preferred over Type-2 hypervisors.
Important hypervisor applications:
There are several Hypervisor applications, but the important ones are:
- Hypervisors make the VMs server management independent of the host and its environment. Thus, when one VM crashes, the others work on it.
- It permits administrators to use hypervisors for workload balancing since the VMs can be migrated with teams without the stopping of them being a requirement.
- Different operating systems use hypervisors for their fail-over feature in testing and running of programs.
- Hypervisors are used to consolidate cloud servers and avoid the server sprawl and consolidation requirements of data centers.
- Under-utilized servers are now a thing of the past with hypervisors.
- Virtualization techniques can now leverage the hardware’s unused capacity to run multiple workloads leading to better service levels, cost optimization, costs, timelines, etc.
Choosing a great hypervisor in cloud computing:
Choosing the right hypervisor is a choice and not a chance to take. Remember these factors to make a wise choice.
A. Need-based purchases: Type-1 hypervisors score higher than Type-2, offering better performance and suitability in critical applications. The hosted supervisors are simple and quick to deploy in test environments. Thus, the factor you need to look into when choosing hypervisors is your need for prioritization. The factors that count when selecting are:
B. Hypervisor cost and functionality: For buyers, functionality and cost are a trade-off. While the entry-level hypervisor solutions can be nearly free, the costs of the high-end ones are huge! Besides, the licensing frameworks are also hypervisor-specific.
C. VM performance parameters: Virtual systems performance parameters should ideally be better than their server-specific applications compared to their counterparts.
D. Ecosystem: For a hypervisor to be truly profitable, it needs factors like documentation availability, training, support, third-party consultants, developers, etc., on a long-term basis.
E. Test it yourself: You can use your laptop/ desktop to run VMware Fusion or Workstation and run Microsoft Hyper-V or vSphere from VMware to check out the testing and learning virtual environments.
Why get practical learning on hypervisors?
Most enterprise solutions today use hypervisors in server management simplification and cloud service environments. Virtualization has its merits and demerits as IT teams have difficulties managing VM performance of VMs and complex hypervisor ecosystems procured from multiple vendors. The provisioning ease increases the OS and applications on different OSs leading to compliance, security, and maintenance issues.
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