When it comes to business strategy, virtualization is usually at the top of the list for adoption. It certainly makes sense; after all, virtualization offers businesses many benefits like faster disaster recovery, easy scalability, and reduced energy costs. In fact, when people think of virtualization, they’ll likely think of a business environment or a large server room. Virtualization, however, can have many uses outside the office and in an individual’s personal life. It’s called home virtualization, and those that take advantage of it find that many of the same benefits seen on the business side of things can also be found at home.
If it’s a bit difficult to see how home virtualization can be so beneficial, don’t feel singled out. Home virtualization is somewhat rare and used more as a special project by the technically savvy. But for those who are curious to pursue it, virtualization at home can prove quite rewarding. To start, it’s important to understand the goal of virtualization, which is to create a virtual version of something. In business, this is usually done by creating virtual machines in servers or for storage purposes. At home, the goal is usually different, preferring instead to focus on desktop virtualization. With this type of virtualization, users can run a virtual computer within a physical computer. This essentially means the physical machine is broken up into separate machines with separate software and operating systems, all operated on the same hardware.
While it may seem a strange thing to do, home virtualization actually offers many advantages to those willing to put in the time to integrate it. One of the biggest attractions is its customizability. A user who is fond of certain programs used exclusively on different operating systems would normally be out of luck depending on the computer he or she bought. An Apple-exclusive application, for example, can’t be found on a PC, but with virtualization, that line can be blurred to the point that it practically doesn’t exist. Home virtualization allows for PC applications to be used on Macs and vice-versa. Include added complexity with Linux or the Chrome operating system, and you get plenty of freedom for people to use whatever applications they like with whatever operating systems they like.
Customizability is only one benefit from home virtualization. Another is the added security that comes from creating a separate machine that can divide business life and personal life. By having a designated virtual machine for, say, web browsing, the chances of getting a virus or malware that spreads to the business portion of your computer is negligible. In that way, you can have other family members do whatever they want on their virtual machine (accessed through a separate terminal), while business information and data is protected from whatever activities they engage in.
There are many business benefits to virtualization that still apply in the home. By creating virtual machines from the same hardware, not only do you save on the cost of buying a whole new machine, you also save on costs by reducing the amount of energy you use. Home virtualization also allows for making easy backups of your systems, making for faster recovery times in the event disaster strikes. Virtualization can also respond to different demands much more quickly; in other words its scalability is a real asset that can be used at home. In addition to those benefits, people can use virtualization to harness cloud computing by creating a personal cloud computer that’s accessed through a mobile device. Add that to the ability to run older apps on past operating systems along with being able to test software upgrades and patches, and it’s easy to see why home virtualization can be so useful.
The worry with any big changes to home technology is usually the cost, but virtualization at home is surprisingly cheap. In fact, lots of virtualization software is either free or at the relatively inexpensive price of $50 or less. The main barrier to massive home virtualization adoption is technical expertise, but assuming you know how to use the technology, virtualization can be a helpful tool in creating a secure, customized, user-friendly environment. If one thing’s for sure, virtualization is not just for the office anymore.