Virtualization and cloud computing are two terms that often seem interchangeable if you’re not familiar with how either work. Although the two technologies are similar, they are not the same thing, and the difference is significant enough to affect your business decisions. Here is a guide to help demystify the tech behind the jargon.
What is virtualization?
Virtualization is the fundamental technology that powers cloud computing. This software separates compute environments from physical infrastructures, so you can run multiple operating systems and applications simultaneously on the same machine. For example, if you do most of your work on a Mac but use select applications that are exclusive to PCs, you can run Windows on a virtual machine to get access to those applications without having to switch computers.
“Virtualization software … enables businesses to reduce IT costs while increasing the efficiency, utilization and flexibility of their existing computer hardware,” said Mike Adams, senior director of cloud platform product marketing at VMware.
One of the biggest benefits of virtualization is server consolidation. Instead of maintaining multiple servers that each have a different function, server virtualization allows you to split the resources of a single server for multiple purposes. Often server resources are underutilized, resulting in businesses spending too much on server upkeep for a little output.
How is virtualization different from cloud computing?
Virtualization is software that manipulates hardware, while cloud computing refers to a service that results from that manipulation. You can’t have cloud computing with virtualization. “Virtualization is a foundation element of cloud computing and helps deliver on the value of cloud computing,” Adams said. “Cloud computing is the delivery of shared computing resources, software or data as a service and on-demand through the internet.”
What are the advantages of a virtualized environment over the cloud?
To best understand the advantages of virtualization, consider the difference between private and public clouds.A private cloud, in its own virtualized environment, gives users the best of both worlds. It can give users more control and the flexibility of managing their own systems, while providing the consumption benefits of cloud computing, said John Live say, vice president and chief sales officer of Infra Net.
“Private cloud computing means the client owns or leases the hardware and software that provides the consumption model,” Live say said. “You pay for resources as you go, as you consume them, from a [vendor] that is providing such resources to multiple clients, often in a co-tenant scenario.”