Virtualization Technology News and Information
What Are the Benefits of Paravirtualization?

Those who work in the computer science field often need to integrate programs across various operating systems (OS). In large organizations, different departments may use the same software but run it on a different OS more tailored to their specific job functions. When software tries to communicate across different systems, errors can occur, resulting in lost productivity and even hardware crashes.  

To keep the lines of production moving smoothly, many computers and servers run more than one OS. Virtualization and paravirtualization allow such devices to create multiple cloud-based areas of operation where systems collaborate to create an integrated final product. While both possess certain merits, paravirtualization offers several advantages organizations do well to consider when implementing such solutions.  

What Are Virtualization and Paravirtualization? 

Virtualization refers to the creation of a virtual environment in which to run a software program as opposed to hosting said program on any one machine. Running a Windows-based OS on an Apple machine represents one example of how virtualization works. Virtualization forms the basis of blockchain technology in which information exists independent of specific servers or devices. 

In full virtualization, an unmodified guest OS runs in isolation on a virtual platform using a hypervisor. Two types of full virtualization exist - software-assisted and hardware-assisted: 

  • Software-assisted virtualization: The hypervisor, or primary server, processes requests and sends unsafe instructions into a trap. The software then continues functioning with the unsafe instructions encapsulated by the CPU. 

  • Hardware-assisted virtualization: The hypervisor relies on apps that help it manage tasks at the process level. This saves time over the software-assisted model as no need exists for binary translation. 

In either type of full virtualization, the guest OS remains unaware of the hypervisor. Speed improves, but communication between OSs can suffer. 

In paravirtualization, software communicates directly with the hypervisor without the use of apps or software. This reduces the speed and performance issues inherent with software-assisted virtualization. Unlike full virtualization - in which the guest OS is unaware of the relationship - the guest OS communicates directly with the host server, revealing the presence of the host.  

What Are the Benefits of Paravirtualization? 

You can see one advantage of paravirtualization through the metaphor of becoming fluent in a foreign language versus using a translator. Developing fluency in a foreign language takes upfront time to build a foundation. However, once you build that foundation, you can expand this fluency easily.  

Compare this to using a translator. No matter how rapidly you and the person you communicate with speak, the interpreter slows down the pace of speech by listening to the speaker, then reiterating the message to the listener. While gaining fluency involves more initial work, later processes flow more smoothly. Whereas, by using an interpreter, you gain more immediate access to your listener but must slow down every conversation significantly.  

The above illustration demonstrates the advantage of paravirtualization over software-assisted virtualization. While paravirtualization requires modification of guest OSs upfront, it allows subsequent processes to flow seamlessly. It allows programs running on different virtual OSs to communicate directly with the host without requiring additional translation.  

Additionally, paravirtualization works on cloud technology across multiple servers. Should one host server go down, others pick up the slack with little - if any - interruption in processing speeds. This proves vital to large organizations where one crash can lead to lost productivity further down the line.  

Finally, paravirtualization conserves power usage due to working primarily in the cloud. It makes efficient use of existing system resources without clogging up memory. Paravirtualization is easy to implement and works well for partitioning test systems from the standard OS, making beta testing simpler.  

Are There Any Downsides to Paravirtualization? 

While paravirtualization offers many advantages, downsides to the technology exist. While paravirtualization typically works faster than software-based virtualization, the performance varies by workload. This can make wide-scale paravirtualization tricky (but not impossible) to implement in large organizations with many moving parts.  

Additionally, some security experts fear the guest OS could expose the host to security threats due to the direct communication line. While research has not confirmed or dismissed these concerns as yet, for maximum security, organizations may wish to use hardware-assisted full virtualization to secure their most vulnerable and proprietary data.  

Paravirtualization Can Improve Your Systems' Processes 

If you run a large organization, paravirtualization can allow users utilizing different OSs to access the same programs across different servers. Doing so without the use of a binary translator speeds up processes. While some express concerns about risk, for most business computing processes, paravirtualization offers a way to speed up the communication of data across large systems.


About the Author

Kayla Matthews is a tech-loving blogger who writes and edits Follow her on Twitter @productibytes to read all of her latest posts! 
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019 9:11 AM by David Marshall
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