What Is A Virtual Server? 3 Types Of Virtual Servers

What Exactly is a Virtual Server?

What Is A Virtual Server?

At its core, a virtual server functions just like a physical server. However, the key difference lies in its ability to exist alongside other virtual servers within a shared pool of servers. Virtual servers can seamlessly integrate their operating systems and interfaces with the resources of their physical counterparts.

To facilitate the migration of physical servers to virtual environments, a range of services are available today. These services can vary from simple and free options to more complex and feature-rich solutions.

Unveiling the Defined Virtual Server

A defined virtual server emulates the functionalities of a physical server. It essentially represents a designated space within a physical server, visible to users. This virtual environment allows for convenient resource reallocation, enabling easy adaptation to changing workloads. Ultimately, the aim is to maximize the utilization of physical computing resources, leading to a higher return on investment for organizations.

The Pros and Cons of Virtual Servers

Benefits of a Virtual Server

  • Cost savings and efficiency: Partitioning physical servers and increasing the number of virtual servers on a single machine can yield cost savings and improved efficiency. Roles and responsibilities expand significantly.
  • Resource isolation: Virtual servers can be spun up rapidly, providing multiple sets of services. This facilitates the creation of development and pre-production environments on the fly. Testing in separate environments ensures that software and development issues do not impact all users.
  • Environmental advantages: By reducing the likelihood of physical hardware ending up in landfills and eliminating constant upgrading, virtual servers prove to be environmentally friendly. Running a well-specified server at higher utilization is more cost-effective and efficient than running multiple physical servers at near-zero utilization.

Drawbacks of Virtual Servers

  • Resource constraints: The limitations faced by virtual servers are similar to those encountered by physical servers, especially when dealing with resource-intensive tasks. Overloading a single server or a pool of virtual servers can limit the available processing power.
  • Effective design is the key: Properly designed solutions can mitigate capacity issues as businesses grow. With thoughtful planning during the setup and design phase, capacity limitations can be avoided.

Exploring the Different Types of Virtual Servers

There are two primary methods of offering virtual servers: type-1 and type-2. These methods differ based on where the virtual server runs and how it manages resources and guest operating systems.

Complete Virtualization

Operating-system virtualization

Also known as type-1 virtualization, complete virtualization directly runs on the physical hardware of the host machine. This method eliminates the need for an underlying operating system, granting the virtual server direct access to the hardware. As a result, system administrators often favor this type of virtualization due to its efficiency and security. Many enterprises rely on type-1 or full virtualization for their virtual server needs.

Operating-System Virtualization

Type-2 virtualization, also referred to as hosted hypervisors or OS-level virtualization, involves running virtual servers on the existing operating system of the host machine. This type impacts computer resources such as memory, processing power, storage, and networking. Although type-2 hypervisors are less common in large enterprises and are typically reserved for client or end-user systems, they are favored for their lower entry costs. IT professionals occasionally utilize type-2 virtual servers to create virtual desktops.


An alternative option is para-virtualization, where virtual servers do not fully emulate the hardware of the physical host. Instead, a para-virtualization hypervisor utilizes an application programming interface (API) to directly interact with the host and virtual server operating systems. This approach allows the resulting virtual servers to seamlessly integrate with the host’s resources.

Differentiating Virtual Desktops and Virtual Servers

Virtual desktops enable multiple operating systems to run on the same desktop, or they can function as virtual machines dedicated to a specific user. Examples of virtual desktops include Citrix and Windows 365. Virtual servers, on the other hand, leverage physical resources to serve as hypervisors, allowing for resource pooling. While virtual desktops can run on virtual servers, the reverse scenario of virtual servers running within virtual desktops is rare.

In Conclusion

To grasp the concept of virtual servers, it’s essential to dive right in and understand how virtual technology works. For those interested in type-1 virtual servers, VMWare ESXi offers a free limited-time download, allowing users to experiment with the solution on various hardware configurations.

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