A virtual machine (VM) is an emulation of a computer system that allows multiple operating systems to run on a single physical server or host computer. It functions as a separate and isolated environment that can run its own operating system, applications, and data, completely independent of the host system.
The main advantage of using virtual machines is that they enable efficient utilization of hardware resources, since multiple virtual machines can run on a single physical machine. They also provide a high level of flexibility, as virtual machines can be easily moved from one physical host to another, and can be quickly created, configured, and deleted as needed.
Virtual machines are widely used in cloud computing, data centers, and for testing and development purposes. They are typically managed by virtualization software, such as VMware, VirtualBox, or Hyper-V.