What is a virtual infrastructure?

What is a virtual infrastructure?

Virtual infrastructure is a software-driven server environment. Businesses receive the same power and resources (i.e., storage, CPU space, memory, etc.) of a physical hosting environment without the maintenance and upkeep since virtual infrastructure is primarily delivered via a cloud environment.

IT teams can allocate and deploy these resources much faster than their physical counterparts, allowing organizations to quickly meet the growing demands of the modern business environment.

The creation of virtual server infrastructure has been a critical point in business evolution. Now, businesses can still experience reliable computing power, memory, and storage with tremendous upside and no need for physical IT assets.

Organizations can leverage virtual infrastructure to achieve benefits like:

  • Easier management.
  • Optimization of data.
  • Improved network access.
  • Lower costs.
  • More stability in hard costs or expenses.

Components of virtual infrastructure

Now that we know what virtual infrastructure is, let’s move on to how it works. Part of the reason this technology is so powerful is because it relies on the combination of several other powerful IT components. Let’s look at each in more detail below.

Virtual machines (VMs)

Virtual machines are server instances that exist within the cloud, providing products like VMware hosting. These servers are smaller partitions of a parent server. These partitions are created by installing a hypervisor layer on the parent server’s operating system (OS).

Essentially, this decouples the server resources from the physical parent server, providing hosting infrastructure across however many virtual server instances a vendor may see fit. Each of these virtual instances can be referred to as a virtual machine.

Virtual networks

Virtual networking separates the networking component of the system from the parent hardware. This enables users to access the server network from a central location since all network assets are connected through wireless or advanced software technology. The virtual network also includes security features like user provisioning, virtual machine isolation, and access restrictions.

The three basic types of virtual networks are:

  • VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) brings individual networks together via an Internet connection. Users can access these networks from anywhere through the VPN. A VPN can also mask your IP address during Internet browsing for greater security.
  • VLAN: A virtual local area network (VLAN) uses partitions and groups devices together in domains. The resources and configurations of each domain apply to each device. Organizations can leverage the VLAN for better network security, management, and monitoring. VLANs are also helpful if your organization has a more extensive network with a more vulnerable attack surface.
  • VXLAN: A virtual extensible local area network (VXLAN) creates a third network layer on top of your second VLAN. Organizations can use network switches to create tunnels, granting access and creating endpoints from one network to another. Adding another device (known as a virtual base case) allows for seamless data flow between these layered endpoints.

Organizations can leverage virtual networking to deploy networks at greater speed and a fraction of the cost. IT teams don’t need additional equipment like routers or switches. They can simply launch a virtual network via the path that an abstraction layer within the system provides. This enables rapid scaling, decreased redundancy, and lower overall networking costs.

Virtual storage

Organizations can expand their storage by abandoning physical devices and migrating to a virtual environment. This is done by leveraging storage area networks (SANs) to combine multiple arrays and pool resources, resulting in unrivaled storage capacity.

Migrating to virtual infrastructure for storage also offers companies more flexibility. Provisioning storage resources to virtualized machines allows companies to scale more easily to accommodate business growth and transformation.

Other benefits of virtual storage include:

  • Easier management: Management occurs via a central console, making it easier for small teams to manage data and file storage.
  • Optimization of data: IT teams can use software mirroring to transfer data in a virtual storage environment. This allows for data transfer with almost zero downtime. End users also have easier access to data. If they lose access, they can regain it by simply moving to another virtual machine, and they can do so from any endpoint.
  • Improved network access: Network disruptions are localized to the infected part of your SAN. In the event of a disruption, you only need to take that portion of the network offline. The rest of your storage network remains operational. Network resources are also readily available for anyone with the proper credentials.
  • Lower costs: Operating your VSAN costs much less than traditional storage because it requires less hardware and resources. You can also easily scale your storage capacity as your business grows.
  • Stable expenses: Not only is operating a SAN cheaper, but you won’t encounter any surprise costs. Even as your requirements change, additional fees to expand your storage will still be more manageable than other storage options.

Key technologies and concepts in virtual infrastructure

Understanding the key concepts of virtual infrastructure on a granular level enables us to see exactly how virtual infrastructure works andthe full scope of its capabilities.


Virtualization is the process of separating services or resources from their physical counterparts. The result is a virtual environment with software-controlled resources, operating systems, and storage.

How is this possible? The process depends on the hypervisor or abstraction layer placed on the operating system. This layer decouples a server or computer’s resources from the physical device, creating multiple virtual instances (or virtual machines) within a physical parent server. Each of these virtual machines operates independently, can run its own software or operating system, and stores its own data.

For our purposes, we’ll explore this concept as it applies to servers and hosting. In that realm, virtualization separates server resources (RAM, CPU power, storage, etc.) from their physical environment, which is typically your parent server. Separating these resources allows hosting providers to partition them further and serve a larger number of business customers.

Desktop virtualization

When we look at desktop virtualization vs server virtualization, it’s easy to blur the two concepts. Not only are they similar in terminology, but they are somewhat similar in practice. However, there are still differences, and it’s important to know them.

Companies can apply this concept on a smaller scale. Desktop virtualization takes this larger concept and applies it to a singular desktop PC. Virtualizing a PC allows for the creation of multiple virtual PCs or virtual machines. Each has its own storage resources, operating system, and processor – like a standard computer.

Server virtualization

Server virtualization creates multiple server instances that can host business data, software, and processes. On the other hand, desktop virtualization is used on a more personal level. This type of virtualization allows teams to work remotely from any device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.).

Software-defined networking (SDN)

Networking computers together is traditionally a resource-intensive process. System administrators need to link computers via numerous hardware devices like routers and switches. Software-defined networking (SDN) removes these constraints, simplifying the networking process.

In an SDN scenario, even the most intricate networking configurations can leverage software-based controls, eliminating the need for expensive networking hardware. However, if your organization is slowly transitioning (or still relies on legacy hardware for whatever reason), you can still use SDN. In addition to creating virtual networks, software-defined networks can also control traditional networking hardware.

Using an SDN to virtualize a network affords organizations much more flexibility and prevents them from outgrowing IT infrastructure. Teams can create various virtual networks out of a single physical network. Companies also experience greater security, customizable infrastructure, and increased network speed and control.

Storage virtualization

By virtualizing storage devices, businesses can pool multiple storage arrays to expand their data and processing capacity exponentially. To the end user, using virtual storage looks the same as using a physical storage device. But, thanks to an abstraction layer, the user can access near-limitless storage capacity behind the scenes.

Decoupling and pooling storage capacity from its physical devices comes with significant benefits. Using these virtual storage instances allows companies to expand their capacity while decreasing hardware costs, respond to business needs faster, and all but eliminate the issues of overprovisioning and redundancy.

Cloud computing and virtual infrastructure

Virtual infrastructure is the backbone of cloud computing. Creating a virtual server environment, separate from its physical parent, allows for complex computing operations – once confined to massive server rooms and data centers – to be executed in the cloud.

On a larger scale, cloud infrastructure makes launching and scaling a business more accessible to the masses. Historically, starting a business was largely an expensive endeavor. The initial costs to get your digital infrastructure off the ground could be substantial – and overwhelming for most new business startups.

Now, small businesses have access to the same technology, servers, and environments as Fortune 500 companies – no longer requiring them to build their own physical server or data center infrastructure.

How virtual infrastructure works

The key element of virtual infrastructure, by definition, is its capability to separate server resources from their physical parent environment. Doing so requires four main components. They are:

  • Host.
  • Hypervisor.
  • Virtual machine (VM).
  • User interface (UI).

Each of these components plays its own defined role, but all come together to make virtual infrastructure possible. Here’s a closer look at their individual functions:


The host is a virtualization layer that manages virtual machines (VMs). Several VMs exist on these hosts, and the host continually runs management and monitoring protocols.

Systems can contain groups of host layers focusing on the same internal networking or storage subsystems, ultimately forming a cluster. IT techs can add or remove virtual instances from these clusters as needed, making them easy to adapt to specific business needs and scenarios.


The hypervisor layer allows a single computer to support several virtual instances. This software layer exists on the parent computer’s operating system – creating virtual infrastructure for Linux or Microsoft machines – and allows that computer’s resources to be partitioned into several virtual machines, optimizing resource usage and increasing operational flexibility.

Virtual machine (VM)

Think of each virtual machine as a computer of its own. Each virtual instance contains an operating system, storage, memory, a processor, software programs, and document files. A VM’s operating system is separate from the parent OS and is known as the guest operating system.

Virtual machines give businesses an advantage because they spin up much easier and faster than physical computers. There’s no need to request additional hardware, and with environments like VMware infrastructure, provisioning can happen in a matter of seconds. Additionally, IT staff can easily launch or disconnect a virtual machine.

Organizations also appreciate virtual machines for their greater security. System administrators can monitor and control VM access from a central location. They can control access permissions by simply creating policies or protocols within the network.

User interface

This front-end dashboard allows system administrators to manage and view their virtual infrastructure. Interfaces can either connect directly to the host server or exist within a software or browser environment. The interface aims to display important system metrics so administrators can perform virtual infrastructure management tasks.

Benefits of virtual infrastructure

Migrating from legacy physical IT hardware to virtual infrastructure can be a large undertaking. Companies may be hesitant to switch, thinking the required effort outweighs the benefits.

Here are a few benefits you can expect from migrating to a virtual environment. Hopefully, it will persuade you to embrace virtualization technology in your business and never look back.

Cost savings

Virtualization reduces IT expenses in several ways. First, organizations don’t have to incur the significant investment necessary to purchase the same amount of IT hardware that you would need for a physical data center or server room. Secondly, these companies see substantial reductions in other internal expenses like power bills and on-site data center security.

Finally, small businesses save money when spinning up new servers. Since virtual instances don’t require additional hardware or expenses and can deploy almost instantaneously, companies can launch new hosting environments for a fraction of the cost of traditional servers.

Scalability and flexibility

Since a virtual server environment exists in the cloud and doesn’t require physical hardware, you can easily adapt your hosting capacity to meet the changing needs of your customers. You can quickly add or remove resources to meet the demands of your business.

Additionally, organizations become more flexible by relying on virtual networks. Your team can easily respond to employee demands for new technology or tools. Departments can submit requests for new platforms, and those licenses can easily be distributed out to all the necessary endpoints – in a matter of minutes – from one central location.

Teams become more efficient and agile, and the speed at which you can satisfy employee demands may help you retain talent over your competitors.


Leveraging virtual infrastructure allows for an additional layer of security. All data packets pass through the security protocols within the virtual layer but pass through the physical infrastructure, which means all incoming traffic passes through two layers of cybersecurity protection.

Virtualization also increases response speed to potential security threats. Security administrators can quickly shut down an affected virtual machine or storage network area as soon as they spot suspicious activity.

Use cases and applications of virtual infrastructure

Here are a few ways organizations can use virtual infrastructure to revolutionize many facets of their current IT configuration.

Data centers and server consolidation

Modern businesses must navigate a dynamic and demanding environment. Relying on traditional server infrastructure could result in highly complex, bloated physical networks.

Relying on virtual infrastructure allows organizations to be flexible and nimble, ready to adapt to changes in the business landscape at a moment’s notice. Companies can consolidate their current server configuration and management into one location. This helps reduce costs on several fronts, improving your business’s overall bottom line.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) allows organizations to virtualize individual PCs within their network. Teams can utilize virtualization to access their desktop environment from anywhere, with any device, making it easy for employees to work remotely.

Virtualization in the cloud

Virtualization allows companies to share infrastructure in the cloud, making room for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) businesses. These businesses are third-party providers that offer hosting resources to small or medium-sized businesses at a fraction of the cost of launching your own infrastructure.

Organizations can leverage cloud technology for file sharing, access to expensive software licenses, and other services while keeping operating costs to a minimum.

Virtual infrastructure for software development and testing

Virtualization allows organizations to run multiple virtual computers on a single server. Development teams can use separate virtual instances to run multiple iterations of software through various stages of the creation process—analyzing what works and what doesn’t and putting together a final version. Additionally, VM files can be used to quickly save and store critical application files in a safe, secure location.

Final thoughts

Virtual infrastructure offers all the capabilities of physical server infrastructure but with more upside. Companies can easily expand their hosting resources, enjoy greater security, and lower business costs.

If you’re looking to transform your business through virtualization, Zomiv can help. Contact our team today to learn more about our virtual private server (VPS) hosting packages. We’re here 24/7/365 to support your infrastructure and offer you whatever you need to help transform and scale your business.

See Also: Experience Our for Free VPS Hosting: Enjoy a 30-Day Trial with Risk-Free Servers


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