No advance in information technology in the past six decades has offered a greater range of quantifiable benefits than has virtualization. Many IT professionals think of virtualization in terms of virtual machines (VM) and their associated hypervisors and operating-system implementations, but that only skims the surface. An increasingly broad set of virtualization technologies, capabilities, strategies and possibilities are redefining major elements of IT in organizations everywhere.
Examining the definition of virtualization in a broader context, we define virtualization as the art and science of making the function of an object or resource simulated or emulated in software identical to that of the corresponding physically realized object. In other words, we use an abstraction to make software look and behave like hardware, with corresponding benefits in flexibility, cost, scalability, reliability, and often overall capability and performance, and in a broad range of applications. Virtualization, then, makes “real” that which is not, applying the flexibility and convenience of software-based capabilities and services as a transparent substitute for the same realized in hardware.