What’s the difference between cloud computing and virtualisation technology?
They’re far from being interchangeable – although there’s a considerable overlap in capabilities and provisions.
Cloud computing is the more familiar service, especially regarding the advantages of cloud storage.
But far more than that, it grants companies access to computing resources and complex applications, such as software and data on the web.
Cloud computing is an umbrella term encompassing virtualisation. It’s quite common for virtualisation to precede and thereby lead to a more fully enabled cloud computing system.
As cloud providers can’t devote a single server to each client, virtualisation technology virtually partitions the data stored there, enabling each client to work separately with the same software.
What is virtualisation technology?
Virtualisation technology allows several individual computing environments to be run using one physical server.
Or, to put it another way, a physical machine is made to work at full capacity by distributing its capabilities among many users or environments.
With servers and storage devices running so efficiently, new hardware purchase is minimised.
In effect, an organisation is accessing multiple servers for each physical server purchased.
There are fewer servers to purchase and maintain as the potential of each server is fully exploited.
Each virtual machine runs its own operating system, as well as any business applications required. This enables the creation of useful IT services using resources that are traditionally bound to hardware.
Moreover, along with partitioning their servers, companies can run legacy apps on multiple operating systems.
Obviously, a virtualised server makes better use of the server’s available capacity than a non-virtualised server.
It significantly reduces expense while boosting business efficiency and agility.
What are the advantages of cloud computing?
A company accessing and benefiting from cloud computing technologies saves on the cost of creating its own infrastructure.
Better still, there are no licensing fees involved.
Information as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) is now a commonly accessed and increasingly invaluable resource for most organisations.
IaaS and SaaS Cloud enable the sharing of sophisticated software, data storage, and processing with companies who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.
As an extra advantage, numerous people or teams can simultaneously access a shared programme or file. This allows them to collaborate from completely different locations.
Companies can also immediately tap into extra capacity if business spikes. And as they don’t have to download and install anything on premise, it frees up their own processing power.
What’s more, there’s no need for a team of expensively paid experts to install, configure, test, and secure complex systems. Providers take responsibility for management and updates, ensuring maximum performance and security.
The savings made are considerable.
And like many innovations once available only to large organisations, both cloud computing and virtualisation technology are rapidly being scaled down for small business use.
The cloud architect; a complementary approach
Obviously, both cloud computing and virtualisation technology operate on a one-to-many model.
Cloud computing allows one application to be accessed and shared by many different companies.
Virtualisation enables one computer to perform like many separate computers.
Cloud computing is accessed as a service, whereas virtualisation is employed locally, creating software-based virtual applications, servers, storage, and networks.
Many organisations utilise both capabilities.
After first virtualising their servers, they move on to the agility and self-service advantages of cloud computing.
Or they combine them to create a private cloud infrastructure.
More usually, each technology is deployed and thereby leveraged separately. Each has its own way of keeping spending to a minimum while offering measurable benefits.
It all comes down to a company’s infrastructure and its ability to support the relevant systems.
The different uses of virtualisation technology
Enabling a single physical server to run several highly efficient virtual machines is called Server Virtualisation.
It grants a whole array of advantages, not least eliminating server sprawl and complexity.
It also provides increased server availability, increased application performance, and faster workload deployment.
Virtualisation can also optimise storage hardware, increasing existing hardware utilisation by anywhere from 20 to 80%.
Storage Virtualisation brings together all the computing resources from various storage devices, consolidating it all on a shared yet single virtual storage repository.
Like Storage Virtualisation, Data Virtualisation gathers into one place all the data spread over multiple environments.
This allows any required data to be delivered at the right time, in the required form, to any application or user.
Everything is made available to everyone on the network, no matter they’re location.
This brings us to Network Virtualisation.
Network Virtualisation is a means of completely reproducing a physical network, only virtually.
VPNs, routers, firewalls, load balancers, ports, switches, and numerous applications run on a virtual network, as if they were running on a physical infrastructure.
Desktop Virtualisation sounds like the opposite of Network Virtualisation.
In fact, it ingeniously utilises virtualised desktops and applications.
This enables an efficient response by the IT-department to changing workplace needs, as workstations are swiftly delivered to offices or mobile workers using tablets.
The future of cloud computing and virtualisation
Both cloud computing and virtualisation technology offers companies of all sizes compelling advantages.
It grants easy access to complex and expensive software that might otherwise lie beyond their reach.
It enables easier installation of applications and hardware.
It also provides the opportunity to trial software before purchasing it.
It used to be the case that only the largest organisations could afford to make use of advanced computing technologies, or at least access the customised processes required.
Now it’s increasingly available to companies of any size.
All that’s required is a reliably fast Internet connection and a relatively minimal investment in technology.
Shouldn’t you or your clients also be accessing the incredible capabilities on offer?