Difference Between Hardware and OS Virtualisation

In the good old days, web hosting was primarily of two types – Dedicated Servers and Shared Hosting. Sites that needed dedicated resources and an isolated hosting environment would spend good money on a Dedicated Server (buying or renting). Others would make do with a Shared Hosting service. However, as technologies evolved, virtualisation allowed web hosts to offer a new type of hosting service to people – Virtual Private Server Hosting.

The web host used virtualisation to create several virtual servers on a physical web server, each with dedicated resources, account isolation, and complete root access. Each virtual server could run its OS and applications and host a website. 

Today, we will look at virtualisation and talk about two specific types of virtualisation techniques – hardware virtualisation and OS virtualisation.

What is Virtualisation?

Virtualisation allows the web host to utilise the full potential of the server by using special software to create virtual versions of the computing resources. It enables the host to run multiple operating systems and applications on the server, reducing the cost of hosting. There are different types of virtualisation techniques available like hardware virtualisation, operating system virtualisation and network virtualisation.

What is Hardware Virtualisation?

When you look at a non-virtualised computing environment, the operating system has direct access to the hardware. However, when you use hardware virtualisation, you install a hypervisor (virtual machine manager) in the computing environment creating a layer between the hardware and software. Hence, the operating system relies on virtual computing components as opposed to physical components in a normal environment. For example, if you have a server with four CPUs, you can create eight virtual servers with independent operating systems. It is also called server virtualisation.

Benefits of Hardware Virtualization

  1. Cost-efficiency: Creating virtual servers that can function as independent servers allow the web host to offer hosting services at a much lower cost. It consolidates the server’s resources and reduces power utilisation too.
  2.   Minimal wastage of resources: With hardware virtualisation, a server uses its resources optimally. Any free or available resources can be used by any virtual server, making it a highly flexible option too.

What is OS Virtualisation?

In OS Virtualisation, the operating system is modified to work like multiple independent systems. This technology works on the OS layer, where the kernel of the operating system allows multiple instances to run independently. Many VPS providers leverage this technology to improve the distribution of limited hardware resources.

Benefits of OS Virtualisation

  1.   Uses less space since you don’t need separate hardware to run different applications
  2.   Lower maintenance costs
  3.   Lower power consumption
  4.   Optimal utilisation of server resources

Summing Up

As you can see, both these virtualisation techniques can help boost the efficiency of the server. Hence, hosting service providers can utilise the resources optimally, getting the benefits of savings that they can pass on to site owners by reducing the cost of the hosting service. A VPS Hosting plan is based on a virtual server and offers a dedicated server-like hosting environment at a much lower price, making it a preferred hosting type with different kinds of websites.

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