Virtualization is a technology that helps businesses make better use of their computer resources. Instead of having one physical computer for each task, virtualization allows a single physical computer to act like multiple computers, each with its own “virtual” environment.


To better distinguish between virtual and physical servers, we must first examine each server separately . While a physical server is required to run virtual servers, the architecture for running a web, database, or file server on a real server is different.


What is a Physical Server?


A physical server is like a big, powerful computer that you can touch and see. It’s just like the computer you might have at home, but usually much stronger and designed to do specific jobs for businesses or websites. Instead of being used by one person like a regular computer, a physical server works hard to manage and run things like websites, emails, or important company software that many people need to use at the same time.


A physical server is one that has a motherboard, CPU, memory, and IO-controllers. Its hardware is used directly by an OS rather than through a virtualization framework, making it a “bare-metal” server.


What is a Virtual Server?


A  virtual server is created inside a powerful computer. It acts like a separate computer with its own space to run programs and do tasks. But in reality, it’s all happening within that one big computer. Just like having invisible rooms in a house, virtual servers help do different jobs on the same computer without needing lots of physical computers.


A software-based representation of a physical server is known as a virtual server or virtual machine. A hypervisor is a program that assigns CPU, memory, storage, and network resources to virtual machines while abstracting these resources from the underlying hardware.


Key Differences Between Physical and Virtual Servers:


Physical Server


Tangible: A physical server is a real, physical piece of hardware that you can touch and see, much like a regular computer.


Single Purpose: It’s designed for specific tasks and usually runs only one operating system and set of software.


Resource Allocation: The resources like CPU, memory, storage, and network are dedicated to that one server, even if they’re not fully utilized all the time.


Isolation: Each physical server is separate from others, which can enhance security but might lead to underutilization of resources.


Scalability: Adding more capacity typically involves getting new physical servers, which can be costly and time-consuming.


Virtual Server


Virtualized: A virtual server is like a “pretend” computer created within a physical server. It’s not a physical device but a software-based emulation.


Multi-Purpose: A physical server can host multiple virtual servers, each running its own operating system and software independently.


Resource Sharing: Virtual servers share the physical server’s resources. When one virtual server needs more power, it can take it from the pool of resources.


Isolation and Flexibility: Virtual servers are isolated from each other, providing good security while allowing efficient use of resources.


Scalability: Adding more capacity can often be done by creating new virtual servers on existing physical hardware, which is generally quicker and more cost-effective.


In simple terms, a physical server is a real computer box you can touch, while a virtual server is like a bunch of make-believe computers living inside a real computer. Virtual servers help you to use computer resources more efficiently, run different tasks on the same hardware, and make it easier to adapt to changing needs. Overall, virtual servers provide businesses with the flexibility to adapt to changing requirements, optimize resource utilization, reduce costs, enhance security, and streamline management.


If you want to reap the benefits of virtualization for your business, get in touch with us today!