[Quick Guide] What Are the 7 Different Types of Virtualization

Virtualization is commonly used in tech and non-tech business realms today. Choosing the right type of virtualization can help businesses reduce operational costs and reduce the workload of IT staff. This article will give you a detailed overview of the 7 different types of virtualization.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

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What is virtualization

Virtualization can be simply understood as a virtual version of hardware (operating system, server, storage device, network resources) created to perform specific functions. For example, virtualization technology creates virtual systems by emulating hardware, enabling organizations to execute multiple operating systems and various applications on a single server to improve productivity.


7 Different types of virtualization

As virtualization technology evolves, there are 7 different types of virtualization including hardware virtualization, software virtualization, memory virtualization, storage virtualization, data virtualization, network virtualization, and desktop virtualization.

If you are looking for a proper virtualization method, please read this page to understand the 7 common types first so that you can make the right choice.

Hardware Virtualization

Hardware virtualization is a common type, often referred to the types of server virtualization, that runs multiple virtual machines in a single physical server. All the virtual servers being executed can share the resources (CPU, memory, storage, etc.) of the physical server on the hypervisor (the software layer between the underlying hardware and the virtual machines). In addition, these virtual machines are isolated and independent from each other, and they are able to perform different operating systems.

The common hardware virtualization products include VMware vSphere, Citrix Xenserver, and Microsoft Hyper-V.

Hardware virtualization can also be divided into 3 different types as follows.

  • Full-Virtualization. Completely emulate the hardware with the software (including client operating systems and applications) unmodified.
  • Emulation Virtualization. The virtual machine simulates the hardware and becomes independent of it. The guest operating system does not require any modifications.
  • Para-Virtualization Virtualization. Guest applications perform in their own isolated domains, as if they were running on a separate system, that doesn’t emulate the environment. This means that guest applications need to be specially modified to run properly in this environment.

hardware virtualization

Software Virtualization

Software virtualization is to create multiple virtualized environments on a physical host. This type of virtualization creates a complete computer system with hardware which allows guest operating systems to run.

  • Operating System Virtualization. This type (also be called a container) creates a virtualization layer of software on top of the host operating system and a separate operating system interface for the application, as if it were in a standalone operating system, even with a proprietary file system, system libraries, network configuration, etc.

software virtualization

  • Application Virtualization. This type essentially abstracts the application layer from the operating system so that applications are dependent on the underlying operating system, for example allowing Windows applications to run on Linux.
  • Service Virtualization. This type hosts specific processes and services related to a particular application such as API-driven applications, cloud-based applications, service-oriented architectures, etc.

Memory Virtualization

This type of virtualization is to aggregate physical memory across different servers into a single virtualized memory pool. The common memory virtualization products and platforms are RNA Network Memory Virtualization Platform, IBM Websphere extremeScale, Oracle Coherence.

  • Application-level control. Applications running on the computer can access the memory pool directly through the API or the file system.
  • Operating system-level control. Provide access to the memory pool through the operating system.

memory virtualization

Storage Virtualization

Storage virtualization is presenting a logical view of physical storage resources to the host system, which can be simply understood as combining multiple physical storage together and displaying them as a single storage device such as dividing the hard disk into multiple partitions. The common storage virtualization products are FalconStor Network Storage Server, IBM Storage Virtualization, QUADStor Systems.

Block Virtualization. Separate logical storage (partitioned area) from physical storage for direct access regardless of physical storage or heterogeneous organization.

File Virtualization. Eliminate the dependency between the file level data and the physical storage location (Network Attached Storage). You can simply understand this as the storage system granting access to files stored over multiple hosts.

*Relavant Reading - Block vs File Level Storage

Network Virtualization

Network virtualization combines all the physical network tools into a single software-based resource (virtual network). This type is often related to platform virtualization and generally used with resource virtualization. The common network virtualization products and platforms are 6WIND Virtual Accelerator, Cisco Nexus Virtual Services Appliance, JunosV App Engine.

Internal network: Provides network function for software on a single web server, enabling a single system to operate as a network.

External network: Combine multiple networks or parts of networks into a single unit.

Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization also known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) separates the desktop environment, software, and the physical client device used to access that software, and store the user's desktop on a remote server so that the user can access the desktop remotely from another location. In addition, the security is high because the transferred data associated with desktop virtualization is protected by secure protocols. The common desktop virtualization products and platforms include Amazon WorkSpaces, Citrix XenDesktop, VMware Workstation.

desktop virtualization

Data Virtualization

Data virtualization is a data management approach that retrievals and manipulates data to provide customers with a holistic view of data when the format or physical location of the data source is not yet clear, which will effectively reduce the errors of data entry and formatting. The common data virtualization products are Denodo, JBoss Data Virtualization, TIBCO Data Virtualization.

How to use the virtualization types better

No matter which type of virtualization you adapt, it will bring some benefits and shortcomings to you personally or to your business. After being familiar with the different types of virtualization, do you know how to use the advantages wisely and avoid the disadvantages flexibly of virtualization?

Pros of virtualization

1. Improve efficiency and development productivity. Virtualization can reduce work time in the physical environment to improve the productivity of IT staff, and reduce the waste of physical resources and the time to manage and maintain servers.

2. Faster backups. You can easily back up virtual machines and virtual servers by scheduling snapshots, and ensure that all data is up to date. In addition, you can easily migrate virtual machines and redeploy them as needed.

3. Easier test. A virtual environment makes testing less difficult and provides additional security for testing.

4. Reduce IT infrastructure costs. Enterprises can effectively reduce the number of needed hardware servers in the data center by virtualization, and further reduce the cost of purchasing and maintaining the hardware for these servers.

5. High availability and disaster recovery. You can take snapshots of virtual machines periodically to recover data in case of data loss. Even in case of accidents, virtual machines can be migrated to a new location within minutes.

types of virtualization

Cons of virtualization

Any technology with obvious advantages has inevitable disadvantages, and virtualization is naturally no exception.

1. The expense of purchasing virtualization software and hardware, and maintaining or replacing infrastructure can result in high costs. You can try monthly leases or work with a hosting provider to reduce the costs.

2. A lot of virtualization software comes with restrictions that need to be taken into account before using it.

3. It can take some time for IT staff to receive professional training on virtualization technology.

4. Operations may be restricted. In a virtualized environment, some links must collaborate to perform the task, which requires users to work together, otherwise a problem with one of the links can cause the entire operation to fail.

How to protect virtual data with free backup appliance

With the above, a professional virtualization tool can effectively improve your working environment, but at the same time there are some security threats. So here I will use a free VM backup appliance - AOMEI Cyber Backup to provide an ongoing protection strategy for your virtual machine data.

AOMEI Cyber Backup is a professional backup software for VMware and Hyper-V virtual machines. It simplifies the VM management with its intuitive interface and reduces the hardware cost. With this centralized backup software, you can benefit from the following features.

Perpetual Free: no time limit for AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition.
Support free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Automatic backup: schedule backup tasks with flexible plans and run multiple backups automatically.
Flexible backup strategies: provide different backup strategies to keep tracking the data resiliently.
Instant disaster recovery: recover the entire virtual machine to its previous state without complicated reinstallation and configuration.
Centralized Management: hot backup virtual machines and manage tasks in a central console to reduce human-error and administrative costs.

Please hit the button below to download and use AOMEI Cyber Backup for free:

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

Free and secure data protection solution for virtual machines

1. Download AOMEI Cyber Backup and add your device such as Hyper-VvCenter or Standalone ESXi host.

add VMware ESXi device

2. Create Backup task by hitting Backup Task >> Create New Task.

● On Device Name, select one or more virtual machines to back up at the same time.

select virtual machines for backup

● On Target, specify a destination for virtual machine backups such as local or network place. You can easily store VM to external hard drive or NAS as you need.

backup VM to NAS

●On Schedule, set up full backup for entire VM and incremental/differential backup for the changed data, then specify the time as daily/weekly/monthly to run the task automatically.

schedule VM backup

● Click Start Backup to perform multiple VM backups for free.

3. Restore: click Restore >> Restore to original location to recover the VM to the previous status from any backup version, and it’s convenient to revert a VM without any complicated configuration.

restore VM

✍ While the Free Edition covers most of the VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to Premium Edition to enjoy:
Batch VM Backup: Batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server or standalone ESXi hosts.
Backup Cleanup: Configure retention policy to auto delete the old backup files and save storage space.
Restore to new location: Easily make a clone of a virtual machine in the same or another datastore/host, without reinstalling or configuring a new VM.

Restore to new location

AOMEI Cyber Backup always protects your virtual machines and business security with its efficient VM backup solution. It also reduces business downtime and extra cost.


This article introduces the 7 common types of virtualization and how to secure data well. By taking full advantage of virtualization and virtualization software, it will enable both individuals and businesses to enjoy the benefits and further promote the personal or business growth.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.