Virtualization, in computing, is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device or network resources.
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.
Hardware virtualization or platform virtualization refers to the creation of a virtual machine that acts like a real computer with an operating system. Software executed on these virtual machines is separated from the underlying hardware resources. For example, a computer that is running Microsoft Windows may host a virtual machine that looks like a computer with Ubuntu Linux operating system.
Hardware virtualization, the term host machine refers to the actual machine on which the virtualization takes place; the term guest machine, however, refers to the virtual machine. The software or firmware that creates a virtual machine on the host hardware is called a hypervisor or Virtual Machine Monitor.