Virtualization vs. Cloud: The Real Difference

October 24, 2013

Bita Beigishah
Virtualization vs. Cloud Computing

Cloud computing and virtualization are both network solutions that help businesses maximize finances and other resources. They originated as solutions available only to large scale companies, but in recent years, they have both been redesigned to also suit the needs of smaller organizations.

On the surface, these two networks sound identical but the truth is cloud computing and virtualization are indeed two separate things. Those who use these technologies often mistake them to be interchangeable, which is understandable seeing that the two are directly related. However, the difference lies in the fact that for cloud computing to even be possible, virtualization must exist first.

In the business world, private cloud infrastructures are usually established by the use of both virtualization and cloud computing technologies working in unison together. Smaller businesses, on the other hand, often set up virtualization and cloud computing separately in order to reap the most benefit. Both virtualization and cloud computing can effectively cut costs on equipment and resources while also putting current resources to the best uses possible, you just need to choose the best solution for your needs.

So What Exactly is Virtualization?

Virtualization, by definition, creates something virtually, such as operating systems, hardware platforms, storage, etc. Virtualization software, specifically, refers to a technology that allows one actual server to create and run multiple virtual environments. This means that applicably, you are able to get multiple servers out of each actual server in your possession.

This technology exists as a prerequisite to cloud computing since cloud providers are not able to assign one server per customer even though they provide large data centers filled with servers for the purpose of powering cloud offerings. As a result, cloud providers separate the data on a server so to allow each client to work with different virtual details of the same software.

Why Float in the Clouds?

“Cloud computing” then exists as a larger term in which virtualization is a part of. Cloud computing allows for companies to access data and applications solely through the Internet. While it is possible for companies to build their own cloud computing infrastructure, smaller businesses tend to take up the cloud computing technology by subscribing to one of the many cloud providing services online.

By understanding the difference between virtualization and cloud computing, a company is better equipped to approach these separate technologies and apply them accordingly to their business in order to maximize the benefits. Virtualization and cloud computing have significant benefits for both small and large businesses even if they may be used for different things.

Small Scale Virtualization

Since virtualization allows for multiple servers to run with only one actual server, you can run more applications simultaneously. Virtualization is also useful for storage drives. By virtualizing storage, you can maximize the use of the hardware already in your possession and also pool all of your data and resources into a shared storage location for all network members to access regardless of location.

Since virtualization helps your available hardware to run at its highest potential, less money will be spent on replacing hardware or buying more of the same thing.

Big Applications and Cloud Computing

Whether you build your own infrastructure on your company’s network or you choose to apply cloud computing through Internet subscription, cloud computing offers a wide variety of benefits. If you choose to subscribe to a cloud computing provider, the services you receive will be automatically chosen for you rather than granting you the ability to manually adjust the settings. Still, for those unfamiliar with cloud computing, subscribing to a provider may be the best option since the services offered are designed to cater towards specific business needs.

Small businesses tend to benefit especially from cloud computing since sophisticated services such as hosted voice over or offsite storage are available for far lower costs than the price it would be outside of cloud computing.

Two Options, One Choice

While virtualization and cloud computing have their similarities you often will choose one or the other depending on your individual or organizational needs. So which should you choose?

Remember, virtualization makes one computer perform as if it were multiple computers and cloud computing allows for a variety of computers to access a single application. Virtualization can be deployed in a local setting while cloud computing can be accessed like a service. These are two very similar network solutions with only small, yet distinct, differences.

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