Despite a lot being spoken and written about cloud computing, a vast number of people do not have clarity on what it is all about. Cloud computing and virtualization are often mistaken to be the same; however, these are fundamentally two different IT services. Nonetheless, the two can be used in combination for optimum and cost-effective utilization of computing resources available at our disposal. The bottom line – cloud computing vs virtualization : there is a difference – can be fully comprehended only if one understands the individual attributes, functioning and inter-dependence of these two services.
To begin with, cloud computing is not a tangible hardware technology. It refers to functions and services being stored, handled and delivered through a server whose physical location is neither known nor relevant to operation of these services. It is in essence a virtual server that allows you the ease of storing and accessing data without a tangible hardware. It is this feature that makes cloud computing or cloud hosting one of the most cost-effective yet efficient means of data storage; and is perhaps responsible for its growing popularity.
Virtualization, on the other hand, is a means to allow several servers to operate on a single hardware. This not only enhances the hardware’s performance but also significantly brings down the cost of operations. One host server is used to control access to multiple servers at a given time. Virtualization is a tool used by the IT industry to optimize storage, computing, and networking services.
The Underlying Difference
One of the most fundamental differences here is that cloud computing is more of a utility service than a product that has its roots in the idea of utility computing and works on the principle of treating different computers in different physical locations as a single computing unit. Its basic function is storage and delivery of data and computing resources to the end users through a network. On the contrary, virtualization lacks the ability to deliver a service layer to customers in its original capacity. However, this can be attained through orchestration which aims at augmenting virtualization through the right combination of processes and tools. In its original form, virtualization can at best be used optimize computing resources available at one’s disposal through a system administrator.
The underlying difference that sets cloud computing apart from virtualization is orchestration. Cloud computing, on one hand, is a means delivering services to a user, and virtualization, on the other, is one of the many services that the end-user may seek to be delivered. Virtualization is free from self-service, where as this models forms an integral part of cloud computing solutions. It serves as a mode of timely and accurate delivery of services to the end-user without any sizeable investments in support and training.
Cloud computing has resulted in computing services being viewed as a product that can be purchased as per personal needs and requirements.
Are the Two Mutually Exclusive?
While cloud computing and virtualization have some basic underlying differences in their purpose and operations, these are not mutually exclusive. The right IT solution is not picking one of the two, but using them together to get maximum benefits out of the resources available at your disposal.
Blending Virtualization and Cloud Computing
A mention of virtualization often comes close on the heels of cloud computing. This is largely because virtualization can serve as an effective tool for enhancing the efficiency of cloud computing by simplifying the process delivering services. Some of the attributes of virtualization that make it an apposite tool for complimenting cloud computing include:
Ø Encapsulation: Encapsulation, which protects one application from interfering with another, can be used to represent a virtual machine as a single entity and differentiate it from others
Ø Isolation: This can help in protecting devices from being affected by viruses infested in other machines
Ø Partitioning: Partitioning can be used to offer support to different operating systems and applications in one machine.
Despite their differences, cloud computing and virtualization work in complete tandem and complement each other’s operations thereby creating an optimized computing experience for the users. This computing experience can be further enhanced through the use of dedicated web hosting servers that allow you the freedom of handling seamless amounts of web traffic on your website without having to worry about memory or bandwidth limitations.
Brenda Panin is a tech blogger interested in cloud computing and web hosting. Information for this article has been kindly provided by Ninefold.