System Virtualization for Home & Business
Virtualization...! What does that mean in Computing?
Wikipedia defines it as "[Virtualization is] a technique for hiding the physical characteristics of computing resources from the way in which other systems, applications, or end users interact with those resources. This includes making a single physical resource (such as a server, an operating system, an application, or storage device) appear to function as multiple logical resources; or it can include making multiple physical resources (such as storage devices or servers) appear as a single logical resource."
In simple words Virtualization is about making Software fool (whether it is system or application). Sorry for my harsh words. This technology makes guest software feel like they are interacting with real hardware/resource while it is nothing but a layer created by Virtualization enabled software application.
Softwares with Virtualization Technology for System softwares/Operating system are called as Virtual Machine(s), I mean we can install Operating System with such softwares and they will be actually Machine inside Machine. All the resources used by Guest Virtual Machine will be using physical resources from Host Machine/Operating System.
It is good to use Virtualization for Software Testing, Deployment over multiple platforms and it's usage has long list. It will require really good hardware configuration for machines we are willing to install VMs.
Here is the list of System Virtualization enabled softwares for reference.
Microsoft Virtual PC 2007
You can download it from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/virtualpc/default.mspx
It's freely available and pretty option if you are interested in installing Windows guest over your Windows box.
Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2
This is another Microsoft product for Server Virtualization. It can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/default.aspx
This is one of the big daddy of Virtualization and they are having wide range of products for System and Application virtualization. You can visit it on http://www.vmware.com/. I have been using it since more then 4 or 5 years now and it works great for installation of any Operating System over my Windows Box whether it is Linux / Windows variants.
Recently Oracle has jumped into Virtualization band and in Nov 2007 they unveiled Oracle VM. Which is based on the open source Xen(TM) hypervisor technology. Oracle VM is server virtualization software that fully supports both Oracle and non-Oracle applications, and is three times more efficient than other server virtualization products as Oracle claims on their website. You can download Oracle VM from http://edelivery.oracle.com/oraclevm.
This is another promising Open Source Virtualization software from Innotek which is recently acquired by Sun Microsystems. You can visit VirtualBox website http://www.virtualbox.org/ where it is available as free download.
If you know more about any of the products listed or not listed above please mention it in your comment. I will be updating this post soon or will be writing new one in this reference I guess..!