What is virtual machine (VM) in Azure? Detailed Explanation

By CloudDefense.AI Logo

A virtual machine (VM) is a software emulation of a physical computer system. It allows multiple operating systems (OS) to run simultaneously on a single physical machine, sharing its resources but remaining isolated from one another. Each VM functions as a complete computer, with its own virtualized hardware components, including CPU, RAM, storage, and network interfaces.

The concept of VM dates back to the 1960s, but it has gained significant popularity in recent years due to advancements in hardware and software technologies. The primary purpose of using VMs is to improve resource utilization and enhance flexibility in deploying and managing various software applications.

There are two types of VMs: process VMs and system VMs. Process VMs allow users to run individual applications on multiple platforms, translating machine instructions into a compatible format dynamically. System VMs, on the other hand, provide a complete virtualized environment and support the execution of multiple operating systems.

One key benefit of VMs is their ability to provide a sandboxed environment. This means that if one VM or application is compromised, other VMs or the host system remain unaffected, improving overall security. VMs also enable efficient resource allocation, as multiple VMs can run on a single physical machine, reducing hardware costs and energy consumption.

VMs are widely used in various fields, including software development, testing, and research. They enable developers to test software in different environments without the need for physical hardware. VMs also allow researchers to isolate and study malware in controlled environments, aiding in the development of effective cybersecurity solutions.

While VMs offer numerous advantages, there are also some considerations to be aware of. VMs consume additional computational resources, such as CPU and memory, for virtualization overhead. It is crucial to ensure that the host system has sufficient resources to accommodate the desired number of VMs. Additionally, the security of the hypervisor, the software that manages and runs VMs, is critical to prevent attacks that can compromise the entire VM environment.

In conclusion, a virtual machine is a software emulation of a physical computer system that enables multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a single physical machine. By providing isolated and sandboxed environments, VMs enhance security and resource utilization. They are widely used in various fields, contributing to the advancement and flexibility of software development, testing, and research.

Some more glossary terms you might be interested in:

virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

Learn More

cloud bursting

cloud bursting

Learn More

Geo-redundant storage (GRS)

Geo-redundant storage (GRS)

Learn More