Cloud computing vs virtualization: The face-off

28/09/2021 20mins
Shaibana S


Virtualization is often confused with Cloud computing though there are striking similarities between the two technologies. However, knowing the difference between the two is vital to making business choices.

What is virtualization?
How do multiple operating systems and applications run on the same machine? Wondered how a virtual machine works. Well, virtualisation can answer these questions.

Virtualization is the technology that separates the physical hardware and software by forming a  hardware using software. When an OS from a different system operates on top of the primary OS through  virtualization, it is referred to as a virtual machine.

A virtual machine is only a data file on a physical computer that can be moved and copied to another system , just like any other normal data file. 

This is the very concept that governs cloud technology separating computing environments from its physical infrastructure enabling the running of multiple systems and applications on a single system. It enables businesses to improve upon efficiency and utilisation of the system hardware while keeping the cost down.

This is a software that helps run programs and multiple applications simultaneously. It helps the testing of applications and their running in several systems without having to run them in individual systems. Applications that crash on a virtual system can be reset to the earlier state without harming the system in which it is running.

How is virtualization different from cloud computing?

While cloud computing is the service, virtualization is the software that works on the hardware and cloud computing is dependent on virtualisation.

There are services that incorporate both virtualization and cloud computing. While Cloud computing can use virtualization within it to deliver products or services, the major differentiating factor is that only a Cloud can provide a self-service capability providing automation and scalability.

How does a virtualized environment work better than a cloud?

The advantages of virtualization are better understood by knowing the difference between private and public clouds.

A private cloud provides users an environment of their own. The users have better control over the cloud enabling them to manage their own systems while enjoying the utilization effects of cloud computing. The client owns or leases the service while utilizing the hardware and software and pay for the resources as you make use of them

Whereas a public cloud is open to a number of users and has been designed to provide multiple requirements. The users are likely to face a lag in the utilization of resources.

With virtualization, companies can secure a foothold in the cloud environment and manage the resources themselves. This provides several benefits. You can maximize the use of your server by enabling the use of multiple systems and applications on the same hardware.

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What does your business require: Cloud or virtualization?

Implementing ‘virtualization’, is dependent on the business requirement and there are several factors that go into the consideration aspect of scalability, volume and security features before going into the implementation.

Virtualization is more applicable to businesses with fewer operations which doesn’t require a standalone server. This also applies to servers that are underutilized or looking to offer their server space to other organizations, virtualization would be the solution helping them cut down on power consumption and maintenance costs.

Virtualization can be the best solution for certain organizations whereas cloud solutions offer better solutions to certain other organizations depending on their operational styles and requirements. Organizations that would benefit from cloud solutions are as those that require some of the following:

Companies outsourcing IT, for SaaS that uses software as a service outsourcing basic IT resources to cloud service providers, where you pay as you use. This also lets scalability a consideration for the adoption of cloud services.

Organizations that have fewer security concerns with less number of staff would be better with opting for cloud services, whereas companies that are more concerned about the security aspects with a huge capital to spend on infrastructure and manpower would rather opt for virtualization.

What businesses should look for in virtualization?

However, there are a few factors to consider before opting for virtualization in businesses.

Basically organisations need to consider the type of ecosystem that is available for a particular solution. They need to identify if the solution supports openness and if in future it requires to be scalable and agile. One should also envision if there would be an adoption of future technologies before looking to adopt virtualisation

The future

Virtualisation and Cloud computing are not the final solutions for business processes. But virtualization of the  the hardware would require the adoption of cloud computing services for scalability and better utilization of resources. This points to the adoption of serverless computing which can address end-user concerns about the management of the server, which is a fully managed service that charges for the service you use and for the time utilized.


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