Here is simple test with Google:

  • Search "virtualization of hardware" (with quotes) - it will be 73600 results.
  • "virtualization of a hardware" (with quotes) - 75 results
  • "virtualization of the hardware" (with quotes) - 445 results

So, it seems that the first option is the most popular and something like "more correct". But why?

  • "Virtualization of hardware" - 73600 results.

This is quite the idiomatic way to talk about it, because mostly we don't care about which hardware we are virtualizing. That's the point of virtualization, isn't it :-)

  • "Virtualization of a hardware" - 75 results

I find it hard to picture a context where that's grammatical, except where "hardware" is the first part of a compound. That's because it's a mass noun, and so can not typically be used with an indefinite article. And sure enough, at least some of those google results are research papers or other documents containing phrases like "Virtualization of a hardware system" or "Virtualization of a hardware component". In my opinion, such phrasings are rather redundant, and I suppose that's why they're not used that much.

  • "Virtualization of the hardware" - 445 results

This one is similar to the first option, except now most hits are talking about specific hardware which is being virtualized. It's not nearly as common because if we're talking about hardware virtualization, the virtualization is of more interest than the specific hardware.

I hope this helps!


Without a determiner ("a" or "the"), "hardware" very broadly refers to any amount of equipment. I suspect that as we are talking about "virtualisation of hardware" this is speaking specifically about computer hardware, but even so it is very broad - there is a lot of computer hardware in the world.

"Virtualisation of hardware" would be used when talking generally about the process of virtualising any or all hardware. It doesn't surprise me that the majority of hits on Google contain this version of your phrase.

"Virtualisation of the hardware" specifically refers to a limited set of hardware which the document must have already mentioned or alluded to. This is probably used quite often, but more likely in private documents where people are writing about their own localised environment, such as an organisation documenting the virtualisation of some specific hardware of their own. Such private documentation is far less likely to be publically available for Google to search.

"Virtualisation of a hardware" doesn't sound correct to me, as "hardware" is mainly used as a collective noun. Yes, you can refer to a computer as "hardware", but technically it is "a piece of hardware". There may be some contexts where the setup allows for correct usage of this, but I can't think of any.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.