What it is
A virtual machine (VM) is a computer and its operating system that is not bound to a particular piece of hardware. VMs rely on virtualization to carve a single physical computer into multiple virtual computers. That separation allows organizations and infrastructure providers to create and destroy VMs without impacting the underlying hardware — they’re simply files that can be easily created and deleted.
Problem it addresses
Virtual machines take advantage of virtualization. When a bare metal machine is bound to a single operating system, how well the machine’s resources can be used is somewhat limited. Also, when an operating system is bound to a single physical machine, its availability is directly tied to that hardware. If the physical machine is offline due to maintenance or hardware failures, so is the operating system.
How it helps
By removing the direct relationship between an operating system and a single physical machine, you solve several problems of bare metal machines: provisioning time, hardware utilization, and resiliency.
With no new hardware to be bought, installed, or configured to support it, provisioning time for a new computer is dramatically improved. VMs allow you to use your existing physical hardware resources better by placing multiple virtual machines on a single physical machine. Not bound to a particular physical machine, VMs are also more resilient than physical machines. When a physical machine needs to go offline, the VMs running on it can be moved to another machine with little to no downtime
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