Virtual machines are software computers that operate like physical computers. But why are they all the rage in the DevOps world? Why use a virtual machine? 

Although servers and virtual machines are similar, they differ because virtual machines don’t have a 1:1 relationship to the hardware. What’s beneficial about virtual machines is that they even have their own virtual hardware devices, and they allow applications to run on different operating systems within the same computer. Why use a virtual machine? Because of their incredible flexibility, and the way they empower systems to run faster, cheaper.

There are two types of virtual machines: process virtual machines, and system virtual machines. Process virtual machines perform computer programs in an external environment. They mirror the information of the original hardware or operating system, resulting in consistent performance for the program on all platforms. System virtual machines, meanwhile, assist in sharing the host computer’s resources between multiple virtual machines. They use the software more efficiently, lower the amount of hardware needed, and reduce associated costs. 

So why use a virtual machine? Because they provide significant perks, both financially and operationally, to companies. Financially, because you don’t need to buy new equipment every time you run out of memory. Operationally, because they boot faster and have a tonne of other benefits. 

Since virtual machines do not have a direct relationship with the hardware, the software in the virtual machines can test operating systems without the risk of impacting the host computer. For example, if a company wants to test an application that could pose a security risk, they can test it on the virtual machine, and if it crashes, it causes no damage to the overall system. 

Virtual machines also provide their own architecture that is separate from the physical computer they run on. This structure works as an interface between the software and hardware. Virtual machines allow companies the flexibility to use them for multiple different purposes because they run on any host and are more space-efficient. Fewer devices have to be stalled on the actual host computer, leaving more available space. 

Ultimately, the question “why use a virtual machine” has a multitude of answers. But they all come back to this: virtual machines provide various valuable benefits to companies looking to manage their applications simply, and streamline costs.

For more, read our blog Why Increasing Your VM Utilization Isn’t Enough.