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5 minutes read

Nested Virtualization: Everything You Need to Know 

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
App Development
5 minutes read

Virtualization is an important approach many businesses take to fully utilize their computing resources and run multiple operating systems on a single physical server or device. 

If your organization enjoys the benefits of virtualization and is looking for ways to enhance these benefits or run even more virtual machines (VMs), you will be interested in learning more about nested virtualization.

Nested virtualization gives businesses even greater flexibility and control over their virtual machines and IT systems. This post will explain nested virtualization and how it works in existing virtual environments.

In addition, we will examine the best times to use nested virtualization in your virtual environments and the benefits of nested virtualization your organization can utilize. 

What Is Nested Virtualization?

Nested virtualization is the process of running a virtual machine, or virtual machines, within a virtual machine. If you understand the basic concept behind virtualization, nested virtualization essentially adds an additional layer of virtualization. 

For example, imagine your organization has one DNS server. You could use virtualization to split this physical host device into four virtual servers. Now your organization has four servers it can use.

With nested virtualization, your organization could take those four virtual servers and create additional virtual machines within each instance. Let’s imagine that you create four more virtual servers within each virtual server. 

Instead of one server, your business now has 16 virtual machines. In this example, nested virtualization enabled your business to expand its resources without paying for additional hardware. 

Nested virtual machines can be used for a host of different tasks. Typically, organizations employ nested VMs for development, testing, sales demos, etc. However, the possibilities nested virtualization offers are nearly endless. 

If you follow the traditional computing paradigm of one server, one function, your business could use nested virtual machines to handle all functions without having to use more than one physical machine. 

How to Enable Nested Virtualization 

Not every system and virtual machine will support nested virtualization. Therefore, if your organization is interested in nested virtualization, you should ensure that any new virtual machine it generates can support nested virtualization.

Nested virtualization, like virtualization, is made possible through a hypervisor. A hypervisor is a software abstraction layer that manages the operating systems used by nested VMs. 

The hypervisor not only keeps each virtual machine separate from the others but is also responsible for allocating computing resources like memory, storage, and processing power. 

There are many different types of hypervisors that could be used, from native solutions like Microsoft Hyper-V to enterprise solutions like VMware ESXi. But, of course, if your organization runs Windows, Hyper-V virtual machines will be your best option. 

However, a virtual machine running Windows can create nested VMs using Hyper-V, so your base operating system and host hypervisor don’t necessarily need to be Windows to run a Hyper-V virtual machine. 

Many platforms will include a new virtual machine wizard to help your technical team create and run virtual machines and nested virtualization instances. 

Running Nested Virtualization: How Do VMs Communicate? 

You might think nested virtualization sounds like a good idea, but you might have concerns about communications. For example, what happens when you need VM instances to communicate with one another and share information?

Virtual switches make communication between VM instances possible. A virtual switch is a software program that enables one VM to communicate with another. Without a virtual switch, many organizations would struggle to manage nested virtualization. 

In addition, organizations should use a virtual network adaptor to allow VMs to connect simultaneously to the Internet and access the organizational network. This will ensure that nested virtualization instances are fully functional and in communication with the rest of the VMs.

When to Use Nested Virtualization? 

While organizations might be familiar with virtualization, they may not understand the best times to use nested virtualization. Nested virtualization is great when your organization wants to run multiple VMs. However, when would you want to do that?

Nested virtualization is excellent for companies that need scalable virtual environments for software testing, development, QA, demos, and virtual proof of concept. But, of course, there are many other times when nested virtualization might be the best option for your business; these are just the most common. 

The Benefits of Nested Virtualization 

There are several benefits of nested virtualization that your organization should familiarize itself with, including the following:

  • Flexibility 
  • Support for multiple hypervisors
  • Cost savings
  • Scalability 


Nested virtualization offers unmatched flexibility since you can host virtual environments within virtual environments. Any permutation or technical environment can be built to meet your organization’s exact needs and requirements. 

The value of flexible sandbox environments that can adapt to your organization’s needs is invaluable in development, testing, and business operations. 

Support for Multiple Hypervisors 

Not all hypervisors are the same. If you require a specific hypervisor for the virtual environment your business needs, nested virtualization can make it easier to achieve.

Instead of buying additional hardware and software, your IT team can utilize nested virtualization to generate the ideal conditions for its target hypervisor. 

Cost Savings

Like virtualization, nested virtualization can help your organization unlock IT cost savings. For example, reduce the time your IT team spends maintaining and managing hardware, fully utilize hardware computing resources, and reduce the power your business uses.

In all these ways, nested virtualization helps your business cut costs and save money. 


Organizations want to scale quickly. Nested virtualization can help your organization scale by offering nearly endless VM instances. Add virtual machines as needed without the need to provision new hardware. 

Final Thoughts 

Nested virtualization enables businesses to fully utilize virtualization and create flexible, scalable VM instances. If you want to learn more about nested virtualization and its benefits, contact an experienced technical partner like Koombea.

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