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Types of Hypervisors

What Are Hypervisors?

As we discussed in a previous article, a hypervisor (also known as a virtual machine monitor, or VMM) is a software that you download onto a server in order to allow that server to run multiple operating systems and multiple applications, simultaneously. With previous setups, businesses were forced to maintain a single server for each application and its required operating system. Thanks to virtualization and its system of available hypervisors, businesses are able to run more smoothly, more quickly, and more efficiently.

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Types of Hypervisors

There are two kinds of hypervisor you can use: type 1 and type 2:

Type 1 and Type 2 Hypervisors

Type 1

Type 1 hypervisors, also called “bare metal,” “native,” and “embedded” hypervisors are directly installed to a server’s hardware. In this case, you need a blank server with no operating system installed on it; a type 1 hypervisor acts as the server’s operating system. Think of it as a mattress protector: it covers the hard drive itself, so that the operating systems do not permeate the hardware. Yet, it still allows operating systems and service applications to lie comfortably on top of the hard drive. After you install the type 1 hypervisor, before you can install instances of operating systems or applications, you need a manager program to run the server.

This is the catch-22 with type 1 hypervisors: the hypervisor itself is typically free (or relatively inexpensive) to install, but the content manager program often comes with a hefty price tag. For instance, VMware, the leader in virtualization, charges a baseline of $560 for a 1-year license of its most skeletal hypervisor kit (the VMware vSphere Essentials Kit), but it does not come with many features outside the hypervisor itself. Comparatively, the base price for a VMware type 1 hypervisor kit with an inclusive management program costs $1,268 with a 1-year subscription. One of the most expensive products sold at VMware is the vCenter Server Standard, at nearly $10,000 for a 3-year license with 24/hour technical support.

There is a lot to think about when it comes to pricing and management tools for type 1 hypervisors. However, they are the most effective and most efficient hypervisors because they are installed directly to a server’s hardware. With a proper management program, a business’ ability to optimize production and avoid technical issues is much higher than with a type 2 hypervisor.

Type 2

That's not to say the type 2 hypervisor isn't great, however. Type 2 hypervisors are much less expensive and much easier to install than type 1 hypervisors because they run on the server’s preexisting operating system. These are called “hosted” hypervisors. If the hypervisor is a mattress protector, then the original operating system is a cushiony mattress topper placed underneath it. From there, another instance of the original operating system is installed directly to the hypervisor, and other instances of operating systems can be installed there, as well. Once again, the instances of applications are installed to those individual operating systems.

The best case for using a type 2 hypervisor is that, unlike the type 1 hypervisor, it does not require a management program to run properly. Rather, the hypervisor appears to the user the same way an application does—it can be managed and utilized similarly to any other unique instance that is installed on it. Due to the type 2 hypervisor’s ease of access, and the fact that it’s generally free to download, many businesses prefer this product when they decide to virtualize.

Type 2 Hypervisor Visual
This is a good example of what a type 2 hypervisor function looks like.

The biggest downside to a type 2 hypervisor is its RAM allocation. Unlike the type 1 hypervisor that can automatically switch back-and-forth between servers to ensure their resources are used effectively, the type 2 hypervisor requires the user to manually determine how much RAM an instance of an operating system or application will use on one server. This means that the host server will always being using a specific amount of RAM for each instance, even if one instance suddenly requires more than the others. Unfortunately, this can lead to computer crashes because there won’t be enough RAM to go around between everything at once. Similarly, there can be network issues if too many instances require the network at the same time, and the user wants to use the network on the host computer.

Conclusion

No matter which type of hypervisor works best for you and your business, rest assured that it will make your business run better. Stop worrying about servers that can only do one thing and are just wasting your time and money. Switch to a virtualized system now—there's really no reason not to. What're you waiting for?

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