Everything on earth built by man, has a starting point.  In order to understand what seems complex or abstract, start from the simple and known,  Virtual machines created in the cloud, is a replica of the  machine you see physically. When you look at the physical machine, what components is it made up of – hardware(the machine, CPU, mouse, screen, keypad, etc); the operating system and the applications that runs on top of the operating system. A virtual machine does the same thing a physical machine does but the hardware infrastructure is provisioned for, by a cloud provider like Amazon, Google or MS somewhere and with internet and networking, you are able to do stuff on the VM like you would do on a physical machine. This is moving from the known concept to what seems abstract. It is that easy.

~ Uwem Umana


In the realm of technology, the progression from concrete to abstract concepts is a common pathway towards innovation and understanding. This essay examines how everything built by humans starts from a fundamental concept before evolving into more complex and often abstract forms. Using the example of virtual machines in the cloud computing environment, this discussion will explore how these advanced systems are fundamentally grounded in the simple, well-understood principles of physical computing hardware and software.

Understanding the Basics: Physical Machines

To grasp the complexities of virtual machines, one must first understand the components and functionality of a physical machine. A typical physical computer—whether a personal desktop or a powerful server in a data center—includes tangible hardware components such as the central processing unit (CPU), input devices like a mouse and keyboard, output devices such as a monitor, and storage units like hard drives or SSDs. On top of this hardware, an operating system (OS) is installed to manage the hardware resources and provide the necessary infrastructure for application software to run. These applications are what allow users to perform specific tasks, from word processing to complex data analysis.

Transition to the Abstract: Virtual Machines

A virtual machine (VM) mimics the functionality of a physical computer but does so within a virtual environment created by software. The hardware components of a VM are not physically present; instead, they are simulated by a layer of software known as a hypervisor. This hypervisor runs on physical hardware but can host multiple virtual environments simultaneously, effectively decoupling the operating system and applications from the underlying physical hardware.

Cloud providers like Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure use vast data centers filled with physical servers to host these hypervisors and, consequently, the VMs. Customers can provision their own VMs on these platforms, choosing their desired operating system and the applications they need, just as they would with a physical machine. The difference lies in the virtualization of the hardware, which is managed and maintained by the cloud provider, offering scalability, flexibility, and often cost savings due to shared resources.

From Known to Abstract: The Educational Path

Understanding virtual machines becomes significantly easier when approached from the foundation of understanding physical machines. By recognizing that a VM operates fundamentally like a physical machine, albeit within a software-defined environment, the abstract concept of cloud computing becomes more tangible.

This educational journey—from the physical and known to the virtual and abstract—is not just a narrative of technological evolution but also a pedagogical strategy. It leverages familiar concepts as stepping stones to introduce and elucidate more complex ideas. This method of layered learning is effective in many fields, particularly in technology, where rapid advancements can often outpace foundational understanding.


The progression from physical machines to virtual machines illustrates a broader principle applicable in many areas of human endeavor: complex and abstract innovations are deeply rooted in simple, well-understood principles. By starting from the known and gradually moving towards the abstract, we can demystify and harness even the most complex technologies. As leaders and educators in technology, it is our responsibility to guide this journey, ensuring that foundational knowledge paves the way for advanced understanding and innovation.

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Written by : eymadmin

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