What is a Hypervisor? A Complete Guide to Virtual Machine Monitors
Jan 11, 2021
Hypervisors are an important component of modern IT infrastructure. In this blog, we define what a hypervisor is, what its key benefits are, and how they help enable edge computing, improve security, and enhance data protection.
What is a Hypervisor?
A hypervisor, or virtual machine monitor (VMM), is software that manages virtual machines (VMs) and translates requests between physical and virtual resources. Hypervisors allow a single piece of hardware, called a host, to support multiple VMs, called guests, by virtually sharing its resources like memory, storage, and processing. The hypervisor doesn’t perform any of the actual CPU execution, it simply manages the resourcing and scheduling.
You can see a demo of our hypervisor in action here:
What is a Virtual Machine?
A virtual machine is an emulation of a computer system and provides functionality of a physical computer. The first virtual machines were created in the 1960s and were based on the principle of time-sharing which allowed multiple users to use a computer concurrently. While each program seemed to have full access to the machine, only one program was executed at the time, with the system switching between programs in time slices.
Key Benefits of a Hypervisor
Leveraging a hypervisor to host multiple virtual machines is beneficial for a number of important reasons:
Easier to provision resources for dynamic workloads
Gives you the ability to create virtual machines instantly
Improves efficiency by only needing one physical server instead of multiple
Allows you to be hardware agnostic since the hypervisor separates the operating system from the underlying hardware
Increases flexibility by allowing your virtual machines to be portable and allows IT team to shift workloads across multiple servers
Increases security since virtual machines are isolated from each other
Allows you to run multiple operating systems on the same hardware
How Hypervisors Enable Edge Computing
Many organizations require computing outside of the main data center to support local systems like POS, ERP, inventory management, and file and print services. However, these satellite locations often don’t have the space or human resources to maintain data centers. That’s why we introduced the HE150 which gives you the ability to seamlessly deploy and maintain smaller, but powerful, nodes to run your virtual machines.
Our hypervisor software contained within Scale Computing Hypercore allows IT managers to easily and efficiently deploy their workloads on highly available infrastructure outside the data center. Even if connection is lost to the main datacenter, the local hypervisor will continue to run virtual machines on your nodes so long as it has power. With a hypervisor, IT managers can significantly minimize downtime, quickly provision applications and resources, and simplify their entire data center management.
How Hypervisors Improve Security in your Data Center
One of the primary benefits of using a hypervisor is that it provides an isolated environment for VMs to run. Despite VMs sharing resources, if one VM is hacked, it won’t interfere with anything else running on the same node or cluster. Unless the hypervisor itself is hacked, your VMs will run independently and thus make it more difficult for hackers to bring down multiple systems.
How Hypervisors Enhance Data Protection
On Scale Computing HC3, if a node is running VMs and it fails, those virtual disks and data are still available on the remaining cluster nodes. Our system will automatically restart VMs on remaining nodes. Additionally, you can take multiple point-in-time snapshots of VM storage devices for backup purposes, which all happens nearly instantly and with little impact on production workloads.