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What is virtualization?

MacBook laptop

When music creators think of virtualization they generally think of the software recreations of their favourite hardware synths and effects, generally created as VST plugins. However, in real “geek-speak” virtualization is something quite different and involves your laptop being a “client” and logging into a desktop or other service hosted on a server. Two very different concepts!

In Business

Desktop virtualization on the other hand is more something you might come across in a business or enterprise setting, where large firms want their employees to have secure access to their files and software, wherever they are in the world. To do this, IT departments will make use of Windows desktop virtualization, so the employee will be able to use Windows just as if it was loading directly on their laptop, but the actual computer and files will be safe and secure in the office servers or in a secure datacentre.

Security of information is paramount in many businesses, with the company’s success or failure reliant on having the right data available to the right people when they need it, but that same information locked down away from prying eyes. Virtualization is the technology that makes this possible, with IT departments able to monitor and restrict access to all parts of the networks as they need with a variety of privileged access management tools at their disposal.

In Music

ReBirth RB338Electronic music creation started in the late 1960s and early 1970s with bands like Kraftwerk producing tracks using a variety of electronic devices. As computer technology developed over the next 30-40 years, developers began recreating these physical instruments in software, making them much cheaper and more widely available to the general public – and virtual synthesizers were born. Propellerheads’ Rebirth, a software recreation of Roland’s TB-303 synth along with virtual replicas of the iconic TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines, was the first such synth to become truly widespread amongst computer musicians when it was released back in 1999. Since then, these technologies have come on leaps and bounds, with almost all well-known electronic instruments now recreated as “virtual instruments”, generally compatible with Steinberg’s VST platform.

Virtualised music studio?

It is somewhat of a mystery why these two modern digital technologies use the same terminology, but the two have actually started to come together with new online music studio software from companies like Soundation. These tools allow musicians to make music within their web browser, offloading the CPU processing to the cloud – and so you can make music with much lighter and less highly powered laptops.

Photograph by Pixabay

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