Last updated: July 30th, 2013
With all the talk about cloud computing you would think we would know it like the back of our own hand. The truth is that cloud computing technology is still a cloudy topic for many and the difference between cloud computing and virtualization in general is still not very clear. While it’s true that virtualization services and cloud computing services can work together, they are definitely different services.
One of the main reasons many people mistake cloud computing services for virtualization services, and visa-versa, is because they are made to perform the same general task, which is to reduce the cost of computing in the most efficient manner possible. To clear up the confusion we first need to define each type of service.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a data storage service, that uses virtualization technology to allow people to access their files remotely. Cloud computing uses a non-local space to function. Cloud management software and services are rapidly increasing in popularity as business and other organizations realize the cost savings benefits that come with it.
What is Virtualization?
Virtualization is more of a physical infrastructure in a local environment that can be used to provide cloud services. Essentially, virtualization technology makes it possible to utilize multiple servers on the same hardware, from a remote location, which then makes the most of the hardware’s capabilities to perform. This makes it possible for a single host server to control access to the resources on the physical server. The main point of virtualization being that multiple servers located on one machine will cut down on both operating and hardware costs.
So How Are They Different?
These two technologies are different because cloud computing, as previously mentioned, provides companies to store and gain access to applications and data on virtual servers instead of using physical hardware as virtualization requires. Cloud computing services are also a more efficient way of storing data, since they don’t require the organization to maintain hardware or software. While virtualization happens in a local environment, cloud computing occurs in a non-local space.
The fact of the matter is that these two technologies complement each other quite nicely. Virtualization technology is what allows cloud computing to remotely access and control all the data that is kept on physical servers. Remote access to physical servers allows cloud users to increase in scalability as well as helps to save a lot of money in the end. If you have already invested in virtualization technology, using cloud services can take you a step further to get the most out of your IT goals by providing you with rapid scale computing resources. As virtualization in cloud computing continues to grow, more organizations will realize the many benefits of utilizing them together.
Let’s talk for a moment about security. It should be noted that with an increase in demand for anything, comes an increase in security risks. The irony with most security risks associated with cloud computing, or virtualization, is that they can usually be eliminated with some basic security measures, such as proper server management, installing a good firewall etc. The main message here is that there are several good resources and tools available to keep your cloud and virtualization usage secure.
About the Author: This post was contributed by Dr. David B. Allanshire. Dr. Allanshire is a member of the Cloud Computing Association (CCA), and frequently publishes about the growth of cloud computing, as well as other technologies that relate to it.