Over the turkey virtualization discussions

Describing virtualization technology to everyday folks is challenging.

I was faced with the usual "what do you do for a living?" question over a fine thanksgiving meal and found myself trying to explain virtualization technology and cloud computing to people who use computers to read their Email, news on the Web and don't care about much else in computing.

When I described virtualization as using hardware and software to create an artificial, illusionary environment that allows functions, applications and whole desktop systems or servers to work in an "ideal" environment.  I faced blank stares. Then I tried to run through the layers of virtualization technology described in the model of virtualization technology I use for analysis of products (see Sorting out the different layers of virtualization). The confused looks didn't disappear.

When you're asked about this technology, how do you describe it?