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How Different is Cloud Computing from Virtualization, and How Similar Are They?

How Different is Cloud Computing from Virtualization, and How Similar Are They?

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How different is cloud computing from virtualization, and how similar are they?  This topic will be covered in detail at the upcoming Cloud QCamp right here.

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  • Cloud computing is inclusive of virtualization and a way to implement it. However cloud can be implemented without virtualization as well. Cloud and Virtualization both help deliver optimizated resources, on-demand utilization, flexibility and scalability. Areas of differentiation may be the areas of self-provisioning, granular billing/chargback and APIs. Cloud was implemented more of a outsourced/hosted model first and then slowly being adopted within the enterprise firewall as an architecture. Virtualization on the other hand was started within the boundaries of enterprise firewall and then was utilized in hosted environments. Even if there are differences and similarities...many in the industry use them interchangibly...

  • Virtualization is a key enabling technology for cloud computing environments. The concept of cloud computing has captured the attention and imagination of organizations of all sizes because its service delivery model converts the power of virtualization into measurable business value by adding the provisioning and billing capabilities which Sandip outlined.

  • Nice entre to the Public v. Private Cloud debate :)

    Sandip captured a lot of the technical elements, noting that virtualization is a foundational element of Cloud, but there are many other technical elements to deploying a Cloud environment. But it doesn't address the business and economic benefits.

    Certainly virtualization enables a more efficient utilization of existing computing resources, but it's the automated self-provisioning aspect that really makes Clouds run. Metering and billing is important, but only in the ability to monetize or chargeback costs. However, I don't think that virtualization + automation = Cloud necessarily. This combination is often referred to as the basis of private clouds, but I think that it doesn't take into consideration the economic benefits of public cloud (replaces CapEx with OpEx as opeations need to scale), burst capacity and removes a lot of the heavy lifting with regards to operations and support. Alistair Croll wrote a nice piece on the subject at http://www.informationweek.com/news/services/saas/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222300587&pgno=1&queryText=&isPrev.

  • Virtualization is the stepping stone to internal cloud computing -- physical and logical resources are made available through a virtual service layer across the enterprise.

    To take this thinking up a notch, cloud, in all its forms, represents a "virtualization" of resources, be it physical infrastructure, applications, or data.

  • I talk about this very topic in my recent article "8 myths of cloud computing". The relevant portion of the article is the section "Myth #2: A cloud is a just a fancy name for a virtualized data center." You can find the article at http://gcn.com/articles/2009/10/26/commentary-8-myths-of-cloud-computing.aspx.

  • The Cloud is a business model of employing IT.
    For Cloud Computing customers, the Cloud means outsourcing of IT technology, applications and skills with a pay per usage model.

    Virtualization is a technology abstracting the IT resources. It is used by Cloud suppliers.

    As such there is a world of difference. One is a business model the other a technology you might want to use to implement the model.

    Here is an article about how the Cloud may transform the Enterprise.

  • I see cloud computing as a business term / business model, that is a way of using IT.

    Virualisation is a technology which allows IT to maximise (well at least) utilise hardware resources to a far greater extent.

    So to answer the question, rather than giving my thoughts, Cloud computing and virtualisation are really not releated, so they are not similar at all...However, the way in which they are "linked" is becuase like Cloud Computing, Virtualisation is trying to maximise your businesses IT resources. The fact that many Cloud Computing solutions utilise Virtualisation is irrelevant.

    I posted on this same question very recently - aimed more at business readers: http://andrewonedegree.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/virtualisation-its-not-a-cloud/

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      Andrew, I disagree with you and tend to agree with Adrian's interpretation. Yes, Cloud is using the virtualisation technology to a large extend, hence it is business model.

      • I cant see how a technology can be seen as a business model. If I choose to have an inhouse server running virtulisation software, isnt that a technology decision to maximise IT resources, made by IT. I doubt the business is even aware of this, all busines need know is that their chosen applications are up and running and at x cost. Business needs not know the actual implementation, if they did, why do you have an IT department.

        Virtualisation is used in the cloud to allow cloud vendors to maximise their resources, a business need not know this is being used at all, and it isnt part of the decision making process to leverage the cloud. Their chosen cloud solution doesnt need to even be implemented with Virtualisation on the servers. The choice of moving to the cloud maybe one for the business based on cost, or maybe even put forward by IT, but at no point does the cloud providers implementation effect the business model of moving to the cloud...

  • Cloud Computing today subsumes two aspects. A delivery model based around elastic infrastructure that can be scaled up or down on demand. The second part is a business model that is based on SaaS (Software as a Service). For elastic delivery, use of virtualization is the optimal way for resource utilization. Virtualization is part and parcel of the cloud delivery model, as it is key to creating IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). On the business model side, the availability of IaaS allows for newer models to evolve around SaaS. Thereby the role of virtualization is more indirect.

  • The cloud per se is quite simply the Internet as we all know and love it.

    It comes in two distinct flavors: Websites (SaaS) and Web Services (Cloud computing) the distinction being who is the user of the service on the other end...a human (SaaS/website) or another machine (Web service/cloud computing).

    SaaS/Cloud computing are often used interchangeably now, but my feeling is that this obscures the the fundamental evolution we are seeing on the Internet from people-machine to machine-machine interaction.


    Virtualization is an under the cover technology concept that decouples physical infrastructure from the service provided. It is a core enabler of cloud computing, because the services must be abstracted in order to allow communication and control through a Web service. e.g., start a php server at the URL www.myphpserver.com.

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    From all the info above i would consider Cloud computing as
    a "Service provider" ( SaaS,PaaS ,Iaas)..

    The question is what technology they use ?? and yes you get the answer..

    Its just like the debate "is WWW the internet ? "
    No its just a part of it

    Well thanks all of you for clearing some doubts

  • By a serendipitous sleight of hand I actually answered this question (to a degree) whilst addressing another one on this forum:


    Nice labour saving get out, lol.

  • All very insightful explanations. Let me try my shot at this. It is simple.
    "Cloud computing" is the name for the whole end to end package provided for a
    customer who wants to outsource their software, platform or infrastructure to
    someone who could provide those as a service. Cloud computing provides them a
    way to access those services in a secure, accountable, reliable, scalable,
    monitorable manner, usually on a pay per use basis. "Cloud" means that things
    are hidden behind the scenes i.e. they are not transparent or they are cloudy
    - it is a form of abstraction - so all the customers know is that they get the
    service they need on demand, but they don't know the details of how it is
    being done. So that takes care of "Cloud computing".

    Virtualization is the phenomenon that enables something look like and act as
    something else it really isn't i.e. it is like a wolf in a sheep's clothing -
    which makes the wolf look like a sheep and act as one :) For example
    virtualization could make a Windows OS look like a Linux OS and also act as
    one. Virtualization could make a computer look like having a lot of memory (by
    using virtual memory using the disk) when it only has a small amount of
    memory. It provides the flexibility, agility and scalability needed for a
    computing component to adapt to the varying demands of its heterogenous user

    Now for the connection between virtualization and cloud computing.
    Virtualization could form one of the components (out of the numerous other
    components) of the whole cloud computing package.

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