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Virtualization vs. Cloud
Razvan Bot / Aug 2, 2013

Virtualization and Cloud Computing are modern technology solutions offered by all major players in the IT industry. But what exactly is Virtualization and Cloud? If my infrastructure is virtualized (e.g. VMWare, Hyper-V) does it mean I am already running a private cloud? There seems to be some confusion out there even among IT professionals with respect to these questions.

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I did some research and it looks like the answer to the above questions is something along these lines:

  • Virtualization is basically a building block for Cloud computing
    i.e. Efficient Resource Utilization. It may include IaaS and PaaS.
  • Cloud computing goes far beyond what virtualization can offer
    e.g. Automated Provisioning, Measured Service, Flexibility / Scalability. It may include IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.


Take a look at the article below for a more detailed description of the two concepts:

Virtualization vs. Private Cloud

By Choong Keng Leong

One of the common questions or misconceptions that I encounter during my client engagements is  “I am already running a private cloud because I have virtualized a good proportion of my servers” or “What is the difference between server virtualization and private cloud?”

To some, the above sentence may sound trivial.  But if you try to pose those questions to different experts and gurus, it is likely that you will get varying responses and definitions.

I always go back to the definition of Cloud Computing provided by NIST(National Institute of Standards and Technology), because in my opinion this is currently the most authoritative definition.

Here is a brief summary

The Cloud environment that you are building needs to have 5 essential characteristics: The Cloud service should be implemented using one of these deployment models — Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, or Community Cloud models:  This drives the enterprise architecture and infrastructure designs, implementation and sourcing strategy.

  • On-demand self service
    This means there should be some form of self service portal with service catalog that can automatically trigger workflows for routing, approvals and automated provisioning
  • Broad network access
    Service is accessible via internet or company network (private cloud) using various devices such as thick/ thin clients, laptops and mobile devices
  • Resource pooling
    This implies timesharing of abstracted IT resources (compute, storage, network) from underlying hardware via various enabling technologies such as virtualization
  • Rapid elasticity
    This requires one to dynamically increase or decrease IT resources provisioned, according to changing demands, where possible, automatically
  • Measured service
    This means that capacity and utilization is being monitored and reported for capacity planning, demand and forecasting. It also includes monitoring and reporting service usage for the purpose of chargeback or showback.

Each Cloud service which you are offering to your users/customers should eventually fall into one of the three main service models — IaaS, SaaS or PaaS: The key point here is that you are offering IT as a Service which implies transforming IT to become an IT service provider and sometimes IT service broker (for the case of public and hybrid cloud deployment model) with the necessary service management and governance processes.

Going back to the earlier example of a client who has virtualized a good number of servers.  Is the organization running a private cloud?

My answer would be that it has started to build out a private cloud infrastructure, but we need to look at the other things listed above to see where the company is at with its cloud maturity or readiness before we can conclude if it is really running and operating a private cloud.

I hope you can see the difference between having a Private Cloud infrastructure and running a Private Cloud – the latter includes how you organize, operate and deliver your IT services from your Private Cloud infrastructure. An analogy would be if you see a chauffeur picking you up with the latest and most expensive car, it does not automatically mean that he is a good driver and will be able to provide you excellent service.

Courtesy: InFocus – EMC


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