DevOps Virtualization

DevOps Virtualization

DevOps is one of the key enablers of rapid and consistent software development and deployment today, as it combines new strategies and methodologies to facilitate better team collaboration and continuous delivery of quality software or features. 

Moreover, it uses technologies that power up the software development lifecycle and help it simultaneously increase the quality and rate of deployments by promoting collaboration and transparency throughout the process. Be it Cloud, Automation, or more, DevOps leverages various technologies and tools to create a valuable asset for organizations. 

Another prominent methodology that helps DevOps ensure rapid, consistent, and stable deployments is virtualization. 

In this article, we will unravel the concepts of Virtualisation and help you understand its role in DevOps. 

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is the process that enables teams to create a useful virtual or simulated version/instance of the software on a single server, mimicking its various hardware and software environments. It helps build abstractions of the physical hardware components, between the actual hardware and the virtual instance, to create a combined pool of resources such as CPUs, storage, networking, memory, applications, and various other components. 

These resources are then divided into multiple virtual systems known as Virtual Machines that are an emulation of hardware and software configurations. Each of these virtual machines run their own operating systems and act as independent software, even though it runs on a portion of the physical device. 

The virtual machines are managed with hypervisors or virtual machine monitors (VMM), which is a piece of software, firmware, or hardware that is used to create and run virtual machines. 

Hence, virtualizations and virtual machines enable maximum hardware utilization, allowing it to host numerous virtual machine configurations simultaneously without compromising performance. 

History of Virtualization:

Though new to the DevOps paradigm, the use of Virtualization can be sourced back to the 1960s, where various technologies that enabled virtualization were developed to give multiple users simultaneous access to systems that performed batch processing. 

However, it was not until the early 2000s that the technology became widely popular, as several other solutions to the multiple users/single machine problems were already widespread, like time-sharing. 

It was after organizations started updating their IT environments with less-expensive commodity servers, operating systems, and applications that virtualization finally found its footing, becoming the suitable solution to problems:

  • Partitioning servers and running legacy apps on multiple operating system types and versions. 
  • Reducing the cost of purchase, set-up, cooling, and maintenance. 

This became the foundation for virtualization’s widespread applicability and made it prevalent across enterprises today. 

Role of Virtualization in DevOps:

DevOps’ primary pursuit is to improve the speed and quality of software development, which is made possible by the extensive use of Virtualization. Virtualization is an integral part of DevOps that affects every aspect of the process, from development, testing, and deployment to operations, delivery, and maintenance. 

With the help of this methodology, DevOps teams can use virtual services instead of production services and implement frequent and comprehensive testing, even if the key components are missing from the system architecture. It emulates the behavior of the essential components and removes key bottlenecks that might lead to a delay in release and time-to-market. 

Other prominent areas where virtualization help DevOps are:

  • Provides a consistent, stable environment for development and testing.
  • As the software is developed in a virtual environment, it helps catch errors faster and reduce check-in and release failure rates significantly.
  • Improves product compatibility and interoperability by allowing simultaneous testing on different release and patch levels and integration with other software systems.
  • Offers a consistent, predictable, and failure-tolerant environment, which improves the performance of the software in areas where configuration control, safety assurance, or cybersecurity are critical. 
  • Reduces post-deployment reliability and maintenance costs.

Types of Virtualization:

Nowadays, multiple virtualization types are used across industries to either virtualize one physical resource into many virtual resources or turn several physical resources into one virtual resource. Some of these critical types of virtualization are:

  • Server Virtualization: The most widely used virtualization type, server virtualization helps run a single physical server on multiple operating systems simultaneously to perform multiple independent functions. It helps reduce operating costs, increase server performance, ensure faster workload capacity. 
  • Hardware Virtualization: Another common type of virtualization, hardware virtualization involves the use of virtual machines that imitate the functioning and look of the real system, with the same or a different operating system.
  • Network Virtualization: Network virtualization mimics the physical networks in a virtual environment, enabling applications to run on the simulated network like the physical one. It helps distribute network functions like file sharing, IP configurations, etc. among virtual environments. It also reduces the physical components required for setting up multiple separate networks, like servers, routers, hubs, firewalls, load balancers, VPNs, etc. 
  • Desktop Virtualization: Used to create a virtual environment that imitates the settings of an instance of a desktop and the applications hosted on the device, desktop virtualization allows the administrator to deploy desktop environments to multiple physical machines. This type of virtualization helps create a virtual desktop infrastructure with a secure, centralized work environment accessible from any device.
  • Storage Virtualization: In storage virtualization, several storage disks form virtual storage units, which are assigned to servers for use. It helps provide more flexibility and scalable pools of storage resources and helps tackle challenges like data migration across arrays, vendor lock-in, redundancy, high costs, etc. 
  • Application Virtualization: This type of virtualization helps virtualize and encapsulate applications from the underlying operating system on which they are executed. Here, virtualized applications are not traditionally installed but are used similarly. 
  • Operating System Virtualization: A popular option for teams that need to run Linux and Windows environments on a single device, operating system virtualization allows developers to deploy multiple operating systems on a single machine. It helps reduce bulk hardware costs, increase security, and limit the time spent on IT services. 

Advantages of Virtualization in DevOps:

Some prominent advantages of virtualization are:

  • Reduces workload by enabling DevOps teams to focus on critical tasks. 
  • Saves energy as it does require local software or servers but relies on virtual machines, which lowers the energy utilization. 
  • Improves hardware utilization.
  • Helps set up the local test environment used for various types of testing, without the worry of system crashes and dysfunctioning. 
  • Allows faster server provisioning.
  • Reduced failure rate by allowing the team to execute simultaneous testing on different release and patch levels. 
  • Helps create reliable backup systems by automating the data backup that occurs every minute. 
  • Ensures resource efficiency.
  • Reduces IT overhead and management costs.

Challenges of Virtualization in DevOps:

Despite having various benefits in DevOps, there are a few challenges of virtualization that pose a problem for the team. With that in mind, listed below are a few of these challenges of virtualization in DevOps. 

  • Requires Infrastructure Knowledge: To use virtualization in DevOps, teams require extensive expertise in the technology, which can be a challenge for organizations. For this organizations will have to train existing employees, which can be both time-consuming and costly. 
  • Time-Consuming: In virtualization, configuration and application require time, which makes the process time-consuming.
  • Security Risk: Remote accessibility and virtualization of desktop and applications are at risk of data breaches and hacks, which increases security risks. 

Virtualization Vs. Containerization

Virtualization and containerization are two important technologies used by DevOps teams to optimize the software development, testing, and deployment process. While virtualization enables DevOps teams to develop and test applications within simulated environments and run the complete pools of devices available to consumers by testing deployment on virtual live environments, Containerization takes the process one step ahead. 

Containerization furthers the virtualization concept using operating system (OS) kernels to run multiple applications within a single container. It provides a digital configuration that imitates hardware setups as well as the OS and libraries that the entire runtime environment encompasses.

These together help DevOps teams to achieve more with less like continuous deployment, enhanced stability and consistency, and resource utilization.


In the past few years, virtualization has helped DevOps remarkably reform software development and make it subject to fewer latent defects and issues. It has enabled maximum hardware utilization, reduced various excessive costs, and offered various other benefits to organizations worldwide. The technology uses automation and virtual machines to improve application reliability, device functioning, configuration, and memory state, which further guarantees the quality of the end product. 

So, if you want to ensure maximum benefits with DevOps virtualization, it is important to have an effective virtualization strategy and toolchain in place, when adopting the industry’s most cutting-edge software engineering approach.