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What is a Virtual Machine?

A virtual machine, commonly referred to as VM, is essentially a device that allows you to run another operating system within the current operating system you are using. Essentially, the operating system will begin to run as if it is just another program that is installed on your computer. A VM is the ideal component for testing out other types of operating systems, such as the alternative Linux systems. Virtual machines are also used for running software on an operating system that it was not originally designed for. An example of this would be running a Windows program on your Mac by using a virtual machine.

We’ve previously explored the basic concept of virtualization that should be in your Clould Glossary, so today we’re going a bit deeper.

The Specifics on Virtual Machines

When you hear the term virtual machine, this is simply referring to a program that acts as a virtual computer. It will run on the current operating system, or the host, and will provide virtual hardware to any “guest” operating system. The guest OS will then run in windows on your actual host OS, just as any other program on your computer would. When running, the guest OS will do so normally, just as it would if it were on a physical computer. Essentially, the guest OS views the VM as a typical physical computer.

A virtual machine will provide its own virtual hardware, which will include the memory, network interface, hard drive, CPU and a number of other devices. The virtual hardware that is provided by your virtual machine will be mapped to the actual, physical hardware that is present on your physical machine. An example of this would be that a virtual hard disk will be stored in a file that is located on the hard drive of your machine.

You are able to have a number of virtual machines on your system, you will only be limited by the storage amount that you actually have. There are some situations where you can use cloud computing in order to obtain more storage and therefore run additional VMs on your system at one time. Once there have been several operating systems installed, you will be able to open the virtual machine program and then choose the virtual machine that you would like to boot. At this point the guest operating system will start up and begin to run in a window that is in your host operating system and you will have the ability to run this in full screen mode, as well.

Common Virtual Machine Uses

There are a number of popular uses for virtual machines, which include:

  • To test various new versions of a particular operating system.
  • To be able to experiment with other types of operating systems.
  • To use any software that requires an outdated version of an operating system.
  • To run a software program that has been specifically designed for a different operating system.
  • To test your software on a number of different platforms.
  • To consolidate your servers.

There are a number of useful applications for virtual machines. In fact more and more companies are turning to VMs due to their cloud computing capabilities, allowing inter-office and even off-site sharing to be much easier. There are also a number of options to choose from. Be sure that you find the ideal virtual machine for your needs to ensure that it will meet the demands you have and the work that you need to do.

Seamlessly run multiple OSs with VMs


Where to Find Virtual Machines?

Virtual Machines make testing software incredibly easy, so if you’re looking to benchmark or deploy and test a new application, be sure to browse our selection on the cloud marketplacePurchase your cloud virtual machines from ComputeNext Marketplace, where you can find a huge variety of offerings for business and personal use all over the world.

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