Virtualization vs Cloud Computing

“Cloud Computing” might be one of the most overused buzzwords in the tech industry, often thrown around as an umbrella term for a wide array of different platforms, services, and systems.

It’s thus not entirely surprising that there’s a great deal of confusion regarding what the term actually entails. This may be because cloud shares so much in common with virtualization technology.

Its not just the layman getting confused, even tech savvy people are not very clear about it. According to this post 70% of what admins term private cloud don’t even remotely fit the definition.

What constitutes cloud vs virtualization can be confusing, so lets get this straight.


While server virtualization is the industry standard, it is worth defining virtual data center, so that we can clearly see how it differs from a private cloud. Simply said, virtualization abstracts workloads from hardware. Taken further, this abstraction allows for the pooling of storage, network and compute resources that can be dynamically allocated on-demand. But a pool of centrally managed resources and automated provisioning does not make a cloud.

There are several different breeds of virtualization, though all of them share one thing in common: the end result is a virtualized simulation of a device or resource. In most cases, virtualization is generally accomplished by dividing a single piece of hardware into two or more ‘segments.’ Each segment operates as its own independent environment.

For example, server virtualization partitions a single server into a number of smaller virtual servers, while storage virtualization amalgamates a number of storage devices into a single, cohesive storage unit.  Essentially, virtualization serves to make computing environments independent of physical infrastructure.

You might be wondering that this sounds very similar to cloud computing. No wonder, as Virtualization is the foundation for a cloud.

Private Cloud

Virtualization is the foundation for a cloud. The best way to understand it is to think as if cloud computing is a service whose foundation is the technology Virtualization. Virtualization differs from cloud computing because virtualization is software that manipulates hardware, while cloud computing refers to a service that results from that manipulation.

Even many IT pros have trouble understanding exactly what a cloud is and whether they need one, given the generous use of the word “cloud” in today’s market. In many cases, vendors eager to capitalize on the cloud craze simply rebrand existing products with the word “cloud,” a practice called cloud washing.

the NIST says cloud computing is a model for enabling on-demand network access to a shared pool of resources that can be rapidly provisioned with minimal effort or interaction. In order to be called a cloud, under this definition, your infrastructure must have five essential characteristics.

  1. On-demand service
  2. Broad network access
  3. Resource pooling
  4. Rapid elasticity
  5. Measured service, or pay-per-use model

If you’re looking at what appears to be a server environment which lacks any of these features, then it’s probably not cloud computing, regardless of what it claims to be. Simply calling your virtual infrastructure a private cloud doesn’t make it so. Its quite common for people to see clouds when there are none.

Do you really need a private cloud?

Now, as we know what actually virtualization and private cloud means, it would be easier to decide whether we actually need a Private cloud. In addition to the confusion about what cloud is, there are also a lots of confusions about what private cloud has to offer.

Many people think that getting a private cloud is about cost savings. The real benefits come from self-service, resource tracking and the flexibility to meet changing resource demands — all of which may or may not bring about cost savings.

The decision solely depends on whether the benefits a cloud provides, are really going to help you in any way, will it improve your services or make managing them easier. Deploying to cloud only because of the cool benefits it offers would not be a very good idea.

I mean, if you have or can get an infrastructure, that can easily cater to your needs and cover your use cases, but is missing some point to be able to be called a cloud, so what! Then probably, you don’t need a private cloud! Why get it just for the sake of getting it!

If self-service, resource tracking and the flexibility to meet changing resource demands is what you need, then private clouds are the way to go!