Three Types of Server Virtualization and What’s Best for You

server virtualizationThe three ways to create virtual servers include para-virtualization, full virtualization, and OS-level virtualization. Each system uses a different approach when it comes to server virtualization, and it’s important to understand the differences to successfully create a virtualized environment. All three ways share a few common traits, including a physical server called the host and a virtual server called the guest. When deployed correctly, server virtualization can cut the amount of energy needed to run a data center, and reduce the cost of hardware and software needed to keep things up and running.

Full Virtualization


Used with full virtualization is a hypervisor such as VMware’s vSphere Hypervisor or Microsoft’s Hyper-V server. This hypervisor allows multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a host computer, while also monitoring the physical server’s resources and keeping each virtual server independent of other virtual servers running on the physical machine. Each guest server can run on its own operating system, such as both Linux and Windows.



The para-virtualization technique offers a software interface to virtual machines that is similar, but not identical to underlying hardware. Unlike full server virtualization, guest servers are aware of one another when using para-virtualization. A para-virtualization hypervisor does not need large amounts of processing power to manage guest operating systems because of this, as each OS is already aware of the demands placed on the physical server.

OS Level Virtualization


In contrast to para-virtualization and full virtualization, OS level virtualization does not use a hypervisor at all. Instead, this approach allows the host to perform all aspects of a fully virtualized hypervisor. Each virtual server is independent of one another, but can have mixed operating systems. As guest servers must remain the same OS, this is called a homogeneous environment.

Which server virtualization method is best?


While one company may benefit from para-virtualization, OS level virtualization may be a better option for someone else. Your server virtualization method depends on the network administrator’s needs. If all physical servers must run on the same OS, then an OS-level approach may be the best option. If the administrator needs to run servers on different operating systems, consider para-virtualization. Keep in mind operating system level virtualization is commonly used in virtual hosting environments where it is useful for safely assigning restricted hardware resources amongst a large number of mutually-distrusting users. It is not considered as flexible as the other methods, as it cannot host a guest operating system. The biggest advantage of deploying full virtualization is the fact the guest operating system can run unmodified. Contact a ConRes representative today to learn more about server virtualization and how we can assist with your next project.

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