application virtualization (application portability or application service virtualization)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Guide to app portability and interoperability

Application virtualization (also known as application portability or application service virtualization) is the practice of running software from a remote server rather than on the user's computer. Dynamic link library (DLL) programs redirect all the virtualized application's calls to the server's file system. When software is run from the server in this manner, no changes are made to the local computer's operating system (OS), file system or registry. Computing resources are allocated based on changing requirements in real time.

Advantages of application virtualization include:

  • Cost savings on hardware.
  • Cost savings on software and OS licenses.
  • Ability to handle large and fluctuating work volume.
  • Ability to run multiple versions of an application program concurrently on a single computer.
  • Ease of application management, upgrading and migration.
  • Ability to leverage resources without adversely impacting users.
  • Optimal utilization of existing hardware.
  • Flexibility in the acquisition of hardware resources.
  • Enhanced system reliability and scalability.

Application virtualization is useful in diverse scenarios such as e-commerce, banking, stock trading, insurance administration, business simulations, supply chain management and assistive software.

This was first published in November 2008

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