What is a Hypervisor? What Does it Do?
The Role of Hypervisor
The Hypervisor is known as a virtual machine monitor (VMM) that separates operating systems from the computer hardware. Hypervisor comes in the form of software and is used in cloud hosting and divides the hardware resources of the computer operating systems into multiple pieces.
Using the hypervisor, a host system can share the virtual machine’s resources with other virtual machines. The resources can be anything varying from storage and services. But there is more to hypervisor than we can say in the introduction. So, let’s read this entire article and find out more about it.
What is a Hypervisor?
A hypervisor is a software that runs virtual machines or VMs, but it is also called a virtual machine monitor because it can quarantine the system resources from one virtual machine and allow developers to create and manage that virtual machine. The host is hardware that you use as a hypervisor technique that helps you run different operating systems as guests on a single host system simultaneously.
The hypervisor allows you to use more system resources and provide mobility to help you move the hardware components easily between different servers. A hypervisor can reduce the maintenance requirements of the virtual machines, their space, and energy. And that makes it easy for the hypervisor to run multiple VMs in a single physical server.
Now to know more about how hypervisors work, you will have to look into different types of hypervisors.
How many types of Hypervisors are there?
Hypervisors are implemented as a software layer in traditional terms, but they can also be performed as embedded codes in the machine’s firmware. And that creates two types of hypervisors: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1. Hypervisor
A hypervisor that runs on the host’s system is called a “Native Hypervisor” or “Bare Metal Hypervisor”. You do not require any operating system-based server to run it because it can directly access hardware resources. VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors, etc., belong to this category. Type 1 hypervisor is an efficient hypervisor because it can directly access the CPU resources, physical storage, memory, network, etc., of a host machine.
This process is secure because there is no third-party resource involved that might compromise the security. But the only problem with type 1 is you will need a separate computer for performing its operations. You will also need to direct another virtual machine to allow it to control the hardware resources of the host.
Type 2. Hypervisor
Type 2 hypervisor is a host operating system that runs on another host system, and it does not run directly on the underlying hardware. Type 2 hypervisor runs as an application in the physical system, and you have to install that application to allow the hypervisor to create hardware calls. VMware Player is a type 2 hypervisor that you can install on your computer, and it helps in checking malware or viruses on your PC and other potential suspects.
Type 2 hypervisors grant you easy access to the guest operating system while running in the host machine at the same time. The type 2 hypervisor typically comes with additional features when you are using it on a guest machine. However, you cannot access physical hardware components from this type of hypervisor directly. And it also comes with some risks of security that attackers can find easily.
Now, between these hypervisors, you might have a hard time choosing the right one. To help you with that, we have created a separate section below.
How to choose the right type of Hypervisor?
Type 1 hypervisor is better than type 2 because there is no additional layer in it. Type 1 is immensely used in complicated application development and managing workloads. But type 2 is also useful in some cases. For example, the type 2 hypervisor is easy to set up, and it also helps you deploy a test environment efficiently. You can compare how efficiently these two work so that you can determine which of these hypervisors to choose from.
Understand your requirements: People use a virtualization hypervisor for flexibility, reliability, efficiency, usability, availability, scalability, support, etc. Before choosing between type 1 and type 2 hypervisor, make sure it’s offering what you are looking for.
Affordability: The cost-effectiveness of the system needs to be accounted for prior to buying it. A hypervisor’s functions should be balanced with its cost. Entry-level software is sometimes free, but they do have limitations and glitches. But licensed hypervisors are usually more proficient, so they are also more valuable.
How it performs: Virtual machines should be more proficient than physical machines, especially when there is software involved in the server. You should consider factors such as the number of CPUs a hypervisor is using, its maximum guest memory, and the processors it supports.
Ecosystem: Verify the documentation, training, support, third parties involved in developing the hypervisor software, as well as its availability, if it works, and its reliability.
Once you determine what you need a hypervisor for, you can certainly choose the suitable type for your company and personal use. But please make sure that the hypervisor provides the exact benefits that it is supposed to deliver.
What are the benefits of using a Hypervisor?
Firstly, you can allow your host machine to run different guest virtual machines simultaneously to improve the utilization of the hardware. While with the host machine, you can only host one operating system and one application, the hypervisor can help you virtualize the server so that your host machine can host multiple virtual machine instances. Each of these instances is running an individual operating system and application. And hypervisor allows these instances to do it from a single host machine and access more computing resources.
This is the primary reason and benefit of using a hypervisor. But the secondary benefit can be its flexibility. You can use hypervisors from a smartphone if it’s available as an Android or iOS version. So here are the benefits in a nutshell:
- Reduces cost of using more hardware resources
- Can easily and efficiently migrate a running virtual machine to a physical machine without transferring the VM to offline
- The VMs are isolated so that a compromised virtual machine cannot be used to get inside another VM.
- The Bare-metal hypervisor comes with a snapshot feature that can restore the VMs instantly to their previous state without performing a backup.
Hypervisors are important for organizations to create an extra layer between the data centre and the organizational environment. You only need to understand how the type of hypervisor you are using works and how to perform various management and controls for using the software. It may require you to know how to control management tasks, configurations, migrations, snapshots, etc.
The best hypervisors available in the market are Citrix Hypervisor, VMware ESXi, Oracle VM Server, and more. Some of them are pricey, and some of them are totally free. But the free ones might not meet your certain needs.
We are going to talk more about hypervisors and their different features and limitations in other blog posts. So, follow our site to know more about hypervisors.