A virtual machine is a software computer that, like a physical machine, runs an operating system and applications. A virtual machine uses the physical resources of the physical machine on which it runs, which is called the host system. Virtual machines have virtual devices that provide the same functionality as physical hardware, but with the additional benefits of portability, manageability, and security.

A virtual machine has an operating system and virtual resources that you manage in much the same way that you manage a physical computer. For example, you install an operating system in a virtual machine in the same way that you install an operating system on a physical computer. You must have a CD-ROM, DVD, or ISO image that contains the installation files from an operating system vendor.