In 1998, VMware figured out how to virtualise the x86 platform, once thought to be impossible, and created the market for x86 virtualization. The solution was a combination of binary translation and direct execution on the processor that allowed multiple guest OSes to run in full isolation on the same computer with readily affordable virtualisation overhead.
The savings that tens of thousands of companies have generated from the deployment of this technology is further driving the rapid adoption of virtualised computing from the desktop to the data center. As new vendors enter the space and attempt to differentiate their products, many are creating confusion with their marketing claims and terminology. For example, while hardware assist is a valuable technique that will mature and expand the envelope of workloads that can be virtualised, paravirtualisation is not an entirely new technology that offers an “order of magnitude” greater performance.