Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than physical) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources. There are five areas of IT where virtualization is significant : Application Virtualization, Desktop Virtualization, Server Virtualization, Storage Virtualization and Network Virtualization. Virtualization can be viewed as part of an overall trend in enterprise IT that includes Autonomic Computing, a scenario in which the IT environment will be able to manage itself based on perceived activity, and Utility Computing, in which computer processing power is seen as a utility that clients can pay for only as needed. The usual goal of virtualization is to centralize administrative tasks while improving scalability and work loads.
Application Virtualization is an umbrella term that describes software technologies that improve portability, manageability and compatibility of applications by encapsulating them from the underlying operating system on which they are executed. A fully virtualized application is not installed in the traditional sense, although it is still executed as if it were. The application is fooled at runtime into believing that it is directly interfacing with the original operating system and all the resources managed by it, when in reality it is not. In this context, the term "virtualization" refers to the artifact being encapsulated (application), which is quite different to its meaning in hardware virtualization, where it refers to the artifact being abstracted (physical hardware).
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