Virtualization is, in simple terms, masking several physical resources so that end users can only see a single virtual one. It can also work in reverse by masking one physical resource in such a way that end users see a several resources which they can use for their varied purposes. Whatever the case may be, virtualization is an important methodology in the IT industry.

Several resources can be virtualized, and an example of such is a server. A virtual server is just one server in actuality, but it is partitioned into several servers using virtualization software so that each partition functions like a standalone and independent machine. Each partition acts like a server by itself, with its own operating system and reboot function.

For virtual servers, the question usually boils down to two options: Microsoft or VMware. For the purposes of this article, VMware virtual server will be discussed.

VMware is a software company that specializes in developing virtualization software, and one of their popular products is none other than VMware ESX Server, which is perfect to use when a server is being under-utilized. Companies looking for ways to maximize the use of their servers should consider virtualizing them using VMware ESX Server.

VMware ESX Server focuses on virtualizing a server at the hardware level. Because of this feature, VMware ESX Server is known for its direct, “bare metal” installation. It does not use an operating system (OS) as a platform; rather, it has its own kernel which acts like its own OS.

Microsoft is known for its long line of operating systems dating back to the mid-1980s with MS-DOS. Microsoft has come a long way since then, as proven by its multibillion-dollar net worth and its most recently released operating system, the Windows Vista.

Just this year, after a series of reversed decisions, Microsoft finally allowed users of Windows Vista Basic and Premium Edition to use these versions in virtualized environments. Thus, both business users and home users can enjoy the benefits of virtualization with this move done by Microsoft.

Of course, Microsoft is not letting virtualization be taken over by someone else without a fight. The company has developed its own virtualization technology to compete against the industry leader in virtualization, which is none other than VMware. But in spite of the competition, Vista can run in a VMware environment, and VMware can run in a Vista environment. Initially, only Vista could run in VMware but not the other way around. In fact, many people believed (and still d0) that Vista functions better with VMware, and should be bundled as a virtual appliance.  However, with the release of VMware Beta 6, Vista can be used as the host OS (operating system).

Aside from converting Windows Vista as the host OS, VMware Beta 6 also allows a virtualized environment to span across several monitors. Same works for the reverse—a single monitor can be configured to display several virtual environments. VMware Beta 6 can also support USB 2.0 devices that require a fast virtual machine in order to work properly.

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