Lia Barbu’s 750-Word Expended Definition of Virtualization

TO: Prof. Jason Ellis

FROM: Lia Barbu

DATE: October 21, 2020

SUBJECT: Expanded Definition of  Virtualization


This document is an expanded definition essay of the technical term virtualization. In this document, I will try to define virtualization in the context of computer science. I will discuss several definitions of virtualization in the existing literature, followed by several contextual discussions. Finally, I will provide a working definition of the term.


Oxford English Dictionary defines the verb virtualize as “to give virtual existence to (an intangible or abstract idea, concept, etc.) by perceiving it as, or demonstrating it to be, manifested or present in a real object, action, etc., within the world” (Oxford English Dictionary, n.d.). Virtualization is a derivative of virtualize. Bhanu Prakash Reddy Tholeti, in his article “Hypervisors, Virtualization, and Networking,” says, “Virtualization is the creation of flexible substitutes for actual resources that have the same functions and external interfaces as their actual counterparts, but that differ in attributes such as size, performance, and cost. These substitutes are called virtual resources; their users are typically unaware of the substitution” (Tholeti, 2014, p.387). It means that virtualization uses the existing resources and creates virtual hardware or software with the same quality as a physical resource and less cost. The magic of virtualization is that the users are not aware that whatever they use is only virtual, not physical. Virtualization is the process of extending a computer’s resources multiplying the hardware and software. In this definition, the author highlights the users’ satisfaction. The difference between physical and virtual resources is untraceable. Cerling, Buller, Enstall, and Ruiz offer a more complex and detailed definition in their book “Mastering Microsoft Virtualization.” They say, “In the last few years, the word virtualization has been a topic of discussion in most, if not all, IT organizations. Not only has it promised to save organizations money, but it has consistently delivered on that promise. The first area that this has generally been applied to is the server space. Organizations often take three, four, or more physical servers, create virtual machines running what previously ran on a physical server, and run those workloads on a single physical server hosting multiple virtual machines. Reducing the number of physical servers saves the cost of purchasing, maintaining, powering, and in some cases licensing those physical servers” (Cerling, Buller, Enstall and Ruiz, 2010, p. XVII). The authors emphasize how, through what it does, virtualization is a hot subject for IT companies. Virtualization creates on one server virtual machines with capacities of more than one server. Using virtualization, an organization uses its resources at more than maximum capabilities. Using virtualization, the company reduces the cost of resources and all the other pieces that come with them, like maintenance. It is explained that virtualization in the last few years has become necessary for IT businesses. Compared with the previous definition, this approach highlights the advantages virtualization brings to IT organizations. Pearce, Zeadally, and Hunt, in their article “Virtualization: Issues, Security Threats, and Solutions,” tell us, “In essence, system virtualization is the use of an encapsulating software layer that surrounds or underlies an operating system and provides the same inputs, outputs, and behavior that would be expected from physical hardware” (Pearce, Zeadally, & Hunt, 2013, p. 17). This definition is describing how virtualization uses software to create hardware precisely as a physical one. It refers strictly to how the virtualization process works. It generates a virtual version of a resource giving the possibility to run different systems at once on it. 


Douglis and Kreiger tell us in their article “Virtualization” that, “Virtualization has been a part of the computing landscape for nearly half a century” (Douglis & Krieger, 2013, p. 6). This simple sentence gives us a lot of information about virtualization. It can be said that it synthetizes the age of virtualization in the computer science field. Jordan Shamir in his article “5 Benefits of Virtualization” says, “Despite being created decades ago, virtualization continues to be a catalyst for companies’ IT strategies” (Shamir, 2020, para 15). This shows how important virtualization in today’s IT environment. It is essential for a successful IT business.

Working Definition

Virtualization is the process of using the software in generating new resources with the same qualities and capabilities as physical ones, which is a plus for users and less costly, which is a plus for IT companies.  Even, in use for the last half of the century in this fast computing environment is still the primary mechanism in IT organizations’ plans.


Cerling, T., Buller, J., Enstall, C., & Ruiz, R. (2010). Mastering microsoft virtualization. Wiley Publishing, Inc

Douglis, F., & Krieger, O. (2013). Virtualization. IEEE Internet Computing, 17(2), 6–9.

Oxford University Press. (n. d.). Virtualization. In Oxford English Dictionary Online. Retrieved October 6, 2020, from

Pearce, M., Zeadally, S., & Hunt, R. (2013). Virtualization: issues, security threats, and solutions. ACM Computing Surveys, 45(2), 17–17:39.

Shamir, J (2020, April 8). 5 Benefits of Virtualization. IBM. Tholeti, B. R. (2014). Hypervisors, virtualization, and networking. In C. DeCusatis (Ed.), Handbook of Fiber Optic Data Communication: A Practical Guide to Optical Networking (4th ed., pp. 387-416). Academic Press.

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