Virtualization is a buzzword in today’s IT domain and it’s a crucial expertise for IT specialists. Wondering why virtualization is such a big deal? Continue reading to get insights about virtualization and its importance for software quality assurance specialists.
As per Wikipedia,
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Virtualization involves the creation of a virtual version of something, such as computer hardware platform, operating system (OS), storage device, or other computing resources, instead of the actual version.
Virtualization technology has stretched its reach beyond solely hardware and software to incorporate memory, storage, data, and network virtualization. Each virtualization type comes with unique features.
In this piece, our primary focus will be on hardware virtualization, which is the core and essential virtualization method for software testing.
Hardware virtualization pertains to the virtualization of computers or operating systems. In simpler words, it facilitates the creation of multiple virtual computer environments on a single piece of physical hardware, where each virtual environment operates like an independent computer. This is referred to as platform virtualization.
Hardware/platform virtualization consists of three types of virtualization:
- Full Virtualization: This kind of virtualization allows the main physical server to be virtualized, offering support for different applications and software. It grants flexibility by merging traditional systems with advanced ones, leading to better efficiency and well-structured hardware. Full virtualization enables unaltered and entirely virtualized operating systems to run.
- Partial Virtualization: Partial virtualization emulates the underlying hardware setup for the virtual machines being established. Its main focus is on address space virtualization where each virtual machine has its separate address space. This method is easy to put into practice and offers a reliable and functional virtualized environment.
- Paravirtualization: Paravirtualization is a more advanced form of virtualization technology where the guest operating system is adjusted before being installed inside the virtual machine. This lets the guest OS be cognizant of its environment, as it runs modified versions of operating systems specifically made for virtualization.
Several virtualization solutions, such as VMware Player, Sun Virtual Box, Oracle VM manager, and Microsoft Virtual PC are available for free. These solutions can be installed on your personal desktop or laptop.
Suggested Reading =>> VirtualBox Vs VMWare
Benefits of Virtualization for Testers:
Usually, only one operating system can be installed on a physical machine. However, for software testing, there might be a need to test applications on various operating systems and versions. Setting up a test environment with multiple physical machines can be a complex and time-consuming task. This is where virtualization proves to be beneficial. Virtualization lets you deploy multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical machine, simplifying the process of managing and testing different environments.
Before setting up a virtual machine, certain points need to be considered:
Considerations Prior to Setting Up a Virtual Machine (VM):
- Decide upon the applications you will install on the virtual machine and select a 32 or 64-bit operating system correspondingly. Some apps might not be compatible with older operating systems. For instance, if your plan is to use UFT 12.01, it will not be compatible with Windows XP. Therefore, it’s suggested to install an advanced version of Windows that’s compatible with UFT. Look into the OS compatibility with your required application before installing the operating system.
- Verify if your processor accommodates virtualization. Although most new processors support virtualization, it’s always safer to check the maker’s website for more details. For example, the Intel Pentium Dual Core T2390 processor doesn’t support virtualization for a 64-bit operating system. In such instances, you’ll need to install a 32-bit operating system.
- Ensure you possess a legitimate key or serial number if you’re utilizing the trial version of VMWare.
For this demonstration, we’ll be using VMWare Virtualization software.
Procedure to Install and Configure VMWare:
#1) Download the trial version setup file of VMWare Workstation from here. The setup file size is approximately 307 MB. The screenshots in this article are taken from version 11, although the present version is 12.
#2) Install VMWare on your device. The setup process is straightforward and only requires you to click the Next button a few times.
#3) When the installation is finished, launch VMWare Workstation using either the Start menu or the desktop shortcut.
#4) Click on “Create a New Virtual Machine”.
(Note: Click on the picture for an enlarged view)
#5) Opt for “Typical” and hit the Next button.
#6) Provide the path of the operating system setup file.
#7) In the following step, you can provide a key or serial number for the operating system. If you’re using the trial version, you can skip this.
#8) Enter a name for the virtual machine and choose a directory to create it. Ensure the selected drive is spacious enough for the virtual machine.
#9) Specify the quantity of disk space you wish to allocate for the virtual machine, in accordance with the size of the software you’ll be installing.
#10) The subsequent screen will display the virtual machine’s configuration that you chose.
#11) By default, hardware is allocated per the default settings, but you can customize this by clicking the “Customize Hardware” button.
You can determine the amount of RAM and processor to designate to the virtual machine. Refrain from allocating all the RAM or processor to the virtual machine, as it could slow down the performance. Retain the default settings or allocate resources that allow your application to work efficiently on the virtual machine.
#12) Click on the Finish button to construct the virtual machine in the specified location with the given resources.
If you defined a valid operating system file (ISO, RAR, NRG) during the creation of the virtual machine, the operating system setup will be finished, and your virtual machine will be set to use along with your current OS.
- If you didn’t specify an operating system while setting up the virtual machine, you can install it later in the same way you would on a tangible machine. You can use devices such as CD/DVD or USB like a flash drive, or even mount an ISO file to install the operating system in the VM.
- If your CD/DVD drive isn’t operational, you can still install the operating system by navigating to VM -> Settings -> CD/DVD and picking the option to use an ISO image from your hard drive. This will cause the location to act as a CD/DVD drive for your VM.
- Make sure the correct boot order is set in the BIOS so that the setup process begins when the VM is powered on (under cases where the guest OS isn’t installed).
Moving Data between the Host and VM:
By default, a VM owns its drive and doesn’t display drives from the host OS. Similarly, the VM drive can’t be accessed from the host OS.
However, there are some methods to exchange data between the host OS and the VM:
Method #1: Using Shared Directories: In VMWare Workstation, you can navigate to VM -> Settings -> Options -> Shared Folders and add the paths of the directories you aim to access in the VM.
Method #2: Using USB Devices: If you insert a USB device, it will be available in the host OS by default and won’t be visible in the VM. To use the USB device in the VM, go to VM -> Removable Devices, hover over the USB device, and click “Connect” to disconnect it from the host. The USB device will then be accessible in the guest OS (VM) but won’t be accessible on the host machine. To make the USB device available again on the host machine, reverse the action.
Benefits of Virtualization:
As an individual who has worked in the storage domain and tested disaster recovery products for several years, I am a fervent supporter of virtualization because:
- Virtualization facilitates the establishment of a fully functional and cost-effective test lab, which would otherwise be difficult to create.
- Features like cloning, snapshots, and migration make it easy to create copies, revert to a clean setup, and transfer virtual machines. This leads to faster server provisioning and increased uptime.
- Virtualization aids in conserving space, energy, and resources.
However, it’s vital to bear the following points in mind:
- If you need to save multiple VM images, you will need extra storage space, such as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) box.
- Despite VMware offering high availability features, the guest OS might still require a reboot.
- If you’ve deployed VCenter, there are limitations on the maximum number of hosts, virtual machines, and registered virtual machines.
- In cluster and resource pool configurations, there are restrictions on the number of hosts and virtual machines.
In summary, virtualization enables flexible hardware deployment and configuration and is an integral skill for succeeding in professional tasks.
What are your thoughts? Do you utilize VMWare or any other virtualization software? Share your tips and tricks with us.