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August 2009, Vol. 13

OS virtualization: Virtualizing without the hypervisor

Virtualization doesn't require a hypervisor. Imagine a virtualization infrastructure completely devoid of a hypervisor. Having no hypervisor eliminates the need for driver emulation. Getting rid of driver emulation means faster performance. Faster performance means more virtual machines that can be run simultaneously. And more simultaneous virtual machines nets you higher density, all of which means more bang for your virtualization dollar. This may sound like fantasy, but all virtualization solutions don't always follow the traditional hypervisor-based architecture. One class of virtualization architectures, OS virtualization, operates in exactly this way. To quote from my recent e-book, The Shortcut Guide to Selecting the Right Virtualization Solution, OS virtualization leverages "a host OS and residing virtual machines [that] are completely and wholly segregated from each other. What's different [with OS Virtualization] is that the host's OS becomes the base OS from which all its hosted virtual machines start their existence....

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