In the current day of always connected devices, ubiquitous Internet access, and collaboration and sharing becoming the norm, traditional senses of computing and networking are being challenged. While powerful desktop and laptop machines certainly do exist and still have their merits, the incredible increase in tablets, netbooks, and lower power laptops are certainly insinuating a change. Gone are the days when pure processing power is needed to create and share documents. With the invention and development of cloud computing, and on the production side, virtual servers, end users can use smaller, more efficient machines to take advantage of these new technologies.
Cloud computing is largely used from a client, end-user perspective. Especially useful for keeping documents synchronized and aiding in collaboration, cloud computing takes the burden of document storage, and often times processing, off of the user's computer. Because of cloud computing's decentralized nature, all changes and documents can be instantly mirrored and viewed anywhere else in the world.
More and more individuals and companies are examining cloud computing and trying to see what all they can do with it. Some individuals have come up with ways to run their entire desktop on a decentralized server, allowing their full computing experience to be available to them wherever they may have an Internet connection. One common example of this is many systems utilized by schools and universities. Often times the individual computers are "dummy terminals" capable of running a web browser and not much else. However, due to cloud computing and, in some cases, cloud processing as well, each individual student can have full access to their files, programs, and computing power.
Virtual Servers provide an excellent way to quickly manage multiple websites, processing applications, or simply as a redundancy aid. With a virtual server, additional "servers" can be created on one physical box, giving the administrator many additional capabilities. Often times these are used to test out new programs or networking infrastructures on a smaller scale before introducing them to the rest of a company or the general public. It can also spread out different computational tasks to different virtual servers, keeping data and processing separate until they need to be joined later.
With any modern website hosting, virtual servers are being used on almost every one of their websites. Because most websites do not merit enough traffic to have a dedicated server, keeping multiple websites or programs on separate virtual servers allows for a lower cost to all involved. This is an excellent example of how virtualizing standard server operations can streamline the process and keep things running smoothly for all involved. Whether individual or corporate, for in-house or public use, virtual servers can give leverage and streamline the cost and time associated with maintaining multiple physical servers.
As computers and technology continue to progress further, both cloud computing and virtual servers will continue to rise in popularity and use. While most consumers are most familiar with cloud computing through marketing efforts from such names as Apple and Microsoft, virtualization of servers is becoming increasingly useful on the enterprise and hobbyist levels.
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