What is Virtual Computing?

Computer users often need to access processing resources that aren’t available on their local machines.  Virtual computing solves this problem by connecting client machines to a host workstation over a remote network. College students who are pursuing an informational technology degree should be familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of using a virtual computer. The IT profession often involves setting up networks with access to virtual computers. IT students can get a head start on building this skill set by learning the basic concepts.

Remote Computing

Virtual computers can be grouped into two main categories:

  • virtual machines
  • remote computers

A virtual machine is probably the more familiar type of virtual computer for most IT students. It shares the local resources available to it through the host computer. Virtual machine software, such as VirtualBox and Parallels, creates a sandbox within a host operating system installed onto the hardware of a desktop or laptop computer. The host machine shares memory, processing power and disk space with the virtual machine in the sandbox.

A remote machine is a completely different type of virtual computer. It’s typically a powerful workstation or network of workstations that can be accessed over a network from a client machine. Remote computing works in the same way that cloud computing works, except that remote machines are not always available on public networks. They are common in professional environments where many members of a team must work together on a project.

Computer Resources

The main advantage of using a remote virtual computer is that the high-powered onboard resources of the workstation don’t need to be transported to remote locations. It’s like using a private cloud network to fulfill the requirements of an in-house project or provide services to customers. Certain computing tasks require extensive onboard resources that can be quite expensive and physically bulky. Node farms of workstations with high-powered graphics processors are used to perform GPU-intensive tasks. These include:

  • Bitcoin mining
  • day trading
  • animation rendering

According to Microsoft, resources are shared by all users logged in at any given time. If a workstation or node farm is busy, it may not be possible for any users to log in and share the resources. In this case, the online dashboard will inform users that the resources are currently unavailable.

Privacy and Security

Another advantage of using a remote computer is that it can protect client machines from malicious code and viruses that could compromise the security of a team member or the entire company. As long as the network itself isn’t vulnerable to attack, the remote machine provides security and protection for client machines. This is because users aren’t required to install software on their local computers. If a virus is somehow installed on the remote machine, it can’t infect client computers on the network. This protection makes it easy for IT professionals to maintain a virtual computer and remote computing network. Malicious login attempts can be tracked with analytics software.The system can remain secure by using two-factor authentication for users with access to the network.

When it comes to handling resource-intensive projects that require a high level of security, a virtual computer is an excellent choice for most businesses.

Planning on earning an informational technology degree? You can boost your skill set by learning about virtual computing and private cloud networks.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris