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I work for a software development company but have had limited understanding of VMs.

I believe this will help elicit the basic advantage of VMs.

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closed as not constructive by Paul, Journeyman Geek, Dave Rook, CharlieRB, ChrisF Jan 4 '13 at 12:36

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This question cannot have a definitive answer, and so doesn't fit the Q&A format of this site - faq. A VM is easier to manage than a standalone. Centrally managed, easy to reset, better resource management, cheaper on-desk machines. –  Paul Jan 4 '13 at 12:06
    
Because a Virtual Machine only costs as much as the operating system loaded on it does. –  Ramhound Jan 4 '13 at 12:08
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Shailesh, I encourage you to carefully read our FAQ again. If you're unsure if a question would be suited here, ask on Meta Super User first. Many of your questions have been closed or deleted. If you continue to post questions of that sort, your account may be blocked from asking any further. –  slhck Jan 4 '13 at 12:38
    
slhck = Fun Police. Easy with your pimp hand Ike Turner, only 1 of his previous 3 questions have been closed. –  Snesticle Jan 4 '13 at 13:43
    
Hi slhck, I am not deliberately asking questions that break the Q&A format of superuser. Having read the faq multiple times (I use stackoverflow consistently too), I still think my questions hold value for me as well as the community. It makes sense that a moderator close a question he/she finds nonconstructive, but perhaps members should be allowed to pose questions without the possibility of account being closed. Do you think the question has no merit or that it should've been rephrased? (I ask because I want to understand) –  Shailesh Tainwala Jan 6 '13 at 22:32
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2 Answers

This is really hard to answer and there is NO conclusive result, but, as you're asking from a development point, I'll pick up on that and answer from this one perspective (although it may be applicable to other scenarios).

Well, we don't use VM here, but I wish I did, for one reason: Re-installation.

Our dev environment is very complicated (insanely complicated). I would have much rather the environment was set up as a 'default' on a VM and then on my new PC I get a copy of the VM and then can configure it. This would have saved me literally weeks (yes, the system is that bonkers here). Or, I change something, break it all, and there it is!

Keep the VM on an offsite back up, don't worry in case of fire/theft (in regards to what the VM would achieve, I'm not saying fire/theft wouldn't be a problem in general).

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You can fit multiple VM machines on one piece of hardware. A server (a DL380 G7 for example) will rarely ever achieve its full potential in terms of usage in a small to medium business running standard office applications such as email and sql. It would make sense for a company to run 4 workstations and 1 windows server on one piece of physical hardware and use 100% of the hardwares potential, rather than buy 5 physical pieces of hardware that are only ever using 20% of the available system resource. This also saves electricity.

It's also very easy to copy one system and replicate it, saving time on setting up the workstations, because you can clone VM's from snapshots within a few clicks. It's also possible to replicate one VM server to another, creating instant failover redundancy in case of hardware failure, covering the possible failure of multiple workstations as well as the server itself. Using remote desktop to access the virtual workstations can be advantageous in desk areas where you can only physically fit a WYSE terminal or equivalent, or where a PC is likely to get damaged, such as a warehouse or delivery area.

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