4cit-compThe idea of a virtual appliance is confusing to some people. These appliances are extremely useful, but it is difficult to understand how and why if you are not a highly technical individual.

According to this article, a virtual appliance (VA) is a virtual machine (VM) image file consisting of a pre-configured operating system (OS) environment and a single application. The purpose of a virtual appliance is to simplify delivery and operation of an application. To this end, only necessary operating system components are included.

The fact is, everyone can benefit from virtual machines and virtual appliances. It is simply a matter of getting a basic grasp on what they are and how they are used. So, what is a virtual appliance? For the average person, here is a general explanation.

First, we must understand a virtual machine. Basically, it involves a host computer with a large amount of space and processing power. A virtual machine is simply a big file which runs within the physical hardware of the host machine. A piece of software called a hypervisor reallocates the physical resources of the host machine to the smaller virtual machines. This allows for one computer to act as several.

Now, the virtual appliance comes into play. It is a virtual machine image that is preconfigured and ready to run on a hypervisor. They are intended to decrease the time and cost associated with installing, configuring, and maintaining complex software. It is not a virtual machine platform. It is a software image which runs on a virtual machine platform.

You may wonder, “Why do people use virtual machines and appliances?”.

It comes down to efficiency.

If you have one computer doing the jobs of several computers, you cut down on time and cost. It is a more efficient use of resources. It takes less power, physical space, and hardware. With the high volume of computing necessary in many businesses today, the virtual machine has become a solid solution.

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