Well I guess the best place to start with a course on virtual computing is to first establish an understanding of exactly what virtual computing is and for most people it really equates to the ultimate in software modeling of real world objects. So what exactly is a virtual computer? Here's a good definition from somewhere on the Internet. It's a tightly isolated software container, so think of it as a window that runs in our operating system, that inside that window, can run it's own operating systems and applications as if it were a physical computer itself. Now the best way to see this is I'm just going to jump out and bring up a VMware Workstation and notice I have installed Windows XP Professional in here. Now I've got this running at 640 by 480 so that you can see it. But notice as I move this window around, inside here you can see a fully functioning version of Windows XP. So I can go to My Documents inside here and I can move around and I can look at My Music and I can see Sample Music and I can close this out. Notice I can right-click and I'm seeing the actual choices that I would see in XP because XP is running inside this window right here as if it is an actual physical machine. Now that's pretty cool stuff right? You also hear a virtual computer referred to as a virtual machine, so this is also known as virtual machines but you got to watch your terminology here and where you are when you're talking. If you're in a Java environment and talk about a virtual machine, it's something totally different and we'll talk a lot about terminology as we move through the course here. But the best way to understand virtual computing is to think about non-virtual computing in a server environment and we'll talk about the differences between server and desktop a little bit later on. Let's say that we have a Windows Server that's running one application and historically this is the way we did things. One server, one application and then if we needed, you know, six different applications or, or network service type situations, we had six machines. Occasionally we would double them up if one of them wasn't particularly, sometimes you know, a CPU hog or a memory hog. So we've got a Windows Server with one application. Then we've got another Windows Server with two applications on that, then we've got a Linux Server with an application and then we've got another Linux Server with three applications. So this is what our server room looks like, so we're having to maintain four servers with each different applications on each server and you know, we get into KVM Switches and all that sort of thing to keep up with everything. Well if we were to virtualize that environment, notice we could use one server and we could have the Windows Server running in a virtual machine environment just like I just demonstrated a few minutes ago with the XP machine. Then we could have a second Windows Server running two applications in a virtual environment. The Linux Server with one application, then the Linux Server with three applications and these are all on this one machine right here. Now that's pretty cool stuff. Notice how much less complex we are as far as hardware, we're also getting full efficiency off of the processor and the memory here. And so that is, in essence, virtual computing. Now that's virtual computing at the server level where most of us are going to live our lives, is right here. Virtual computing down at the end user level and here you see a Mac Book Pro or a picture of a Mac Book Pro and within the Mac Book Pro, now there's lots of things to like about Apple products and the Mac Operating System and you know Snow Leopard and Lion and on and on. But yet there still, it's a Windows world, like it or not, most business applications run on the Windows platform. And so what we can do is, we can use virtual computing products like VMware and Parallels and all these other things to load a Windows Operating System into a virtual environment on the Apple Operating System and so this is some really neat stuff. So virtual computing is simply virtualizing a machine within a window. So we're running an operating system within an operating system and what's unique and cool about this, is this operating system right here and notice this also is a picture, looks like XP. This believes that it is a free standing computer as far as it's concerned for what, whatever level they can believe and the computer out here doesn't really seem to have a problem or notice that there's another operating system in there. So that's what we're talking about with virtual computing, it naturally splits out into server-side and desktop. We'll talk about that a little bit later on but we're going to focus on desktop with Workstation in this course and just kind of go through some things and help you get your head around and get some skills built up here with working with a virtual tool like VMware Workstation.
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