If you’ve ever wondered what the backbone of the virtualization industry is, you may be surprised to know that it’s the hypervisor. The reason for this, is that a hypervisor controls how virtual environments work and function.

Have you ever considered how your computer is able to run multiple apps or programs all at once? How does it manage such complex tasks without crashing? Well, that’s where the “hypervisor” comes in.

The hypervisor concept was initially developed in the 1960s by IBM. It was originally intended to be IBM’s mainframe computer, able to process billions of calculations and transactions in real-time, securely and reliably. As the years passed and the world of dedicated servers gave way to virtual machines, other technology companies like VMware, Microsoft, and VirtualBox began producing similar hypervisor products, thereby expanding offerings for both home and enterprise use.

Learn more: KVM vs. OpenVZ: Which Virtualization Technology to Choose?

Think of a hypervisor as a kind of traffic officer for server resources on a network, deciding which node gets to use which resources, like CPU, memory, and storage. Nowadays, hypervisors are critical for many organizations.

Traditionally a business would have one machine or server per application. Let’s say you have three servers in your business and you want one of those servers to be dedicated to running your email services. That server might have Microsoft Windows installed as its operating system. Your business may have another server, with a Linux operating system, used for running your company website. Your third server may be running the database of the entire company with Unix as it’s operating system.

In this example, your business would be running one machine for each application, and in action those three servers are running three different operating systems. With a hypervisor, instead of having three servers running one application each, you could just have one server do the job more efficiently. So basically, one server would work as three servers with guest operating systems.

For the average user, hypervisors play a crucial role in cloud server hosting and computing. For example, when you upload a photo, stream a video, or use an app on your phone, hypervisors are behind the scenes ensuring that those services run smoothly and that the host operating system can handle many people using the virtual machines all at once.

For end-users, the impact of hypervisors may not be immediately evident, but it indirectly influences their experiences. Virtualization through hypervisors underpins cloud computing, ensuring the availability and reliability of online services. It enables the rapid provisioning of computing resources, making it possible to scale up or down on demand, leading to smoother and more responsive user experiences.

So, while the term “hypervisor” might not come up in everyday conversation, this technology keeps our digital world running smoothly, ensuring everyone gets their piece of the computing pie without any meltdowns.

Now, let’s explore a few more of the benefits and features of a hypervisor. Keep reading.

What is a Hypervisor?

A hypervisor, also known as a virtual machine manager, is software that runs on top of hardware by creating a virtualization platform. The hypervisor provides a platform for running virtual machines or VMs on top of that underlying infrastructure. With a hypervisor, you get to manage and share physical resources with all of your virtual machines.

The term “hypervisor” holds significant importance as it serves as the linchpin for virtualization technologies, a cornerstone of today’s computing infrastructure. At its core, a hypervisor is a vital software layer that operates discreetly beneath the operating system, effectively enabling the creation and management of multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical server or hardware platform.

What are Virtual Machines (VMs)?

The virtual machines that the hypervisor creates and manages are also known as virtual servers or virtual desktops. On the frontend, virtual machines are a lot like your computers. They operate the same as a normal computer, but the backend of a virtual machine is slightly different than a regular computer. Virtual machines are simulated computers built from the resources of one or multiple physical machines.

Read more about Hyper-V vs. VMware: Which One Should You Choose?

Types of Hypervisors

We have two types of hypervisors that help the main virtual machine function as it should. 

Type 1 Native or Bare Metal Hypervisor:

A bare metal hypervisor is the most deployed type of hypervisor used for virtualization. It acts like a lightweight operating system and runs directly on the host’s hardware. In this environment, the host machine has no pre-existing operating system or any other software installed. The isolation keeps the virtual machines secure from hyper-v-based attacks. Generally, bare metal hypervisors perform better and are twice as fast and efficient compared to Type 2 hypervisors.

Type 2 or Hosted Hypervisor:

Hosted hypervisors run better and more effectively on top of operating systems like the Linux kernel. It is installed on an existing operating system and runs our host machine, which could have Windows, Linux, MacOS, Unix, or any other operating system. If you think of a sandwich, the operating system is installed between the host machine and the hypervisor. Although a hosted hypervisor keeps its operation within the operating system, it can also be installed on virtual and physical machines. Hosted hypervisors are sometimes known as client hypervisors because they are often used with end users and software testing, where higher latency is less of a concern.

How does Hypervisor Virtualization work?

Virtualization basically consolidates the resources from all the physical servers that you have and makes them into one big server that can work with multiple operating systems and function uniquely. You can run all this on just one physical machine in a virtual environment.

Now, this one server can run up to three virtual machines. It can run different services like email, web service, and databases. These services can all run alongside one another and are deployed by one physical machine. Not only do they run the applications and services they are meant for, but they also run their unique operating systems.

Check out the hardware requirements for a virtualization server.  

When users interact with a virtual machine, it still feels like they are interacting with multiple physical machines, and they cannot tell the difference. The software that creates and runs this entire virtualization is the hypervisor, which allows one machine to run multiple virtual machines.

To install a bare metal hypervisor, you need all the physical hardware to build your machine, like the motherboards, CPUs, RAM, and Memory drive. The next step is to install a Type 1 hypervisor, with the most common one being VMware.

After installation, you will have to allocate the server’s hardware, like RAM and storage drives, into several virtual machines. Once this is done, you can load your different operating systems into each virtual machine, which will enable you to install your applications on your different server machines.

For a Type 2 hypervisor (also known as a hosted hypervisor), this works like your conventional operating system. A vivid example of a type 2 hypervisor is a virtual private server (VPS). You can have them hosted on your personal computer and you do not need external physical hardware to make this work. 

Why Use a Hypervisor?

  • Isolation and Security: Users can create isolated virtual environments, enhancing security by keeping applications and data separate, reducing the risk of one affecting the other in case of issues or security breaches.
  • Cost Effective: By consolidating multiple servers into virtual machines on a single physical server, users can save on hardware, electricity, floor space, and maintenance management costs. A business does not need as many physical machines. 
  • Resource Optimization: Hypervisors allow users to maximize the use of their hardware by running multiple virtual machines on a single physical server, efficiently using CPU, memory, and storage resources and taking advantage of the full computing capability of the machine. 
  • Flexibility and Scalability: Hypervisors enable users to quickly create, clone, or delete virtual machines, making it easy to scale up or down based on workload demands or testing needs. They can easily be transferred from one physical machine to another, if needed.
  • Disaster Recovery: VMs are software files, and these files can be backed up, and they can be uploaded to multiple physical machines. So if a machine is down, the other machine will be there to take over from the faulty one. Hypervisors often include features for backing up and restoring virtual machines to support with disaster recovery strategies, thereby minimizing downtime in case of system failures or data loss.

Bottom line: Deploying Hypervisor Servers is the next best thing

Using hypervisor servers can save your company money. It lets you use one physical machine to run multiple VMs for different services. So, you do not need to buy many machines to run multiple operating systems, which translates to significant cost savings.

At ServerMania, we have the hardware and software you need to start your own virtualized environment. We also offer state-of-the-art cloud infrastructure with built-in virtualization right out of the box, allowing you to benefit from cost savings and less server administration.

With free cloud backups and a 100% uptime SLA, we are here to empower you and help you if anything goes wrong with your servers. Get a custom quote or let us know about your next project by booking a free consultation with one of our experts today.