Cloud Computing vs Virtualization

Image of the sky taken from above the clouds.
The sky is the limit with cloud computing and virtualization!

Cloud computing and virtualization give you abstract infrastructure solutions that don’t sit directly on hardware. This means they’re easy to scale, backup, or move to different hardware according to your business’s needs. Both allow you to maximize your on-premise resources and extend your operational capabilities

In this article, I’ll look at what cloud computing and virtualization are, what they can do for you, and show you how they differ. First, let’s look at what cloud computing is and why so many companies are moving towards it.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing allows your business to use various services from third-party vendors. You can use cloud computing to scale processor-intensive applications. Cloud computing even lets you implement real-time AI-driven data analytics of big data. Cloud computing solutions integrate software, hardware, infrastructure, and other network-related resources. You don’t need to set up anything; the provider handles everything. 

One type of cloud computing provider offers software as a service (SaaS) to their customers. This allows companies to easily adopt cloud computing utilities at a far lower cost than implementing them on their own. As you’re paying for a service, it’s the vendor’s responsibility to ensure services are running. In addition, the provider should ensure you’re provisioned with the right amount of capacity to use the software. 

Another type of offering is infrastructure as a service (IaaS), where a third party provides cloud-hosted virtual machines (VMs), storage, and databases. This can be useful for scaling your business quickly without worrying about what hardware you need or its maintenance. It’s also a great solution for companies that don’t have the space or resources to operate the solution they need. 

It’s important to note that you don’t own the cloud infrastructure. Rather, it’s a service you get from the cloud provider. The company is essentially renting the resources from the cloud provider, which is generally cheaper than hosting all the hardware and employing all the workers needed to maintain it. You don’t have to worry about mainframe cooling, clean rooms, or predicting hardware failure for maintenance activities. Also, you don’t need to worry about redundancy and failover systems working correctly.

Now I’ve talked about what cloud computing is, let’s check out the benefits of using cloud computing. 

Top 5 Cloud Computing Benefits

Cloud computing offers many benefits for you to leverage in your company. In this section, we’ll look at the top 5 benefits of using cloud computing.

1. High Speed

Photograph of a train.
Can you add resources faster than a speeding train?

Your team can quickly create, test, and deploy new applications to their cloud-based infrastructure. You don’t have to spend a lot of time configuring environments; you can get right into creating and deploying your applications. 

2. Automatic Updates and Upgrades

You don’t need to worry about updating software and hoping it works. The solution provider takes care of updates and upgrades for SaaS. Provider maintained updates would help to free up your team. 

3. Cost Reduction 

When you can tap into seemingly unlimited resources from your provider, you no longer need to worry about buying servers and building out your own IT infrastructure. This reduces capital expenditure and operating overheads. 

4. Data Security 

Cloud services provide a wide assortment of security features to ensure data is stored securely. Features like granular permissions and access management via federated roles can restrict access to sensitive data. This ensures only the employees who need access to it can do so.

5. Scalability 

By using cloud-based solutions in your operations, your business can quickly adjust the size of its IT operations. When you don’t have the physical infrastructure, it is easy to increase your cloud services, capacity, and availability. Finally, scalability equals agility, and agility equals greater efficiency. 

You’ll find many great benefits when you move to the cloud, but let’s see what virtualization offers! 

What Is Virtualization? 

Illustration of a server with a virtualized layer resting on top of it with multiple environments above it.
Virtualized environments sit on top of a virtualization layer that acts as a translator between the software and hardware.

Virtualization is the process of abstracting a computer’s environment from physical resources. 

A hypervisor layer is added between hardware and the environment. Then, this layer converts I/O between the digital environment and hardware. This enables virtualized solutions to be transferred and scaled more readily without needing to match resources down to the firmware or manufacturer. 

An administrator just needs to, for example, state that a virtualized environment will use 100GB of RAM, and the hypervisor manages hardware allocation. You should note, however, that failing to provide the provisioned resources can make virtualized environments crash. 

You can use virtualization technology to “spin up” several environments on the same piece of hardware. In addition, you can run these environments one after the other or all at once. This makes virtualization great for running software development operations without requiring several machines. 

Now, let’s take a look at the benefits of virtualization and how you can use it to reduce your overheads! 

Top 4 Benefits of Virtualization

In this section, we’ll examine what virtualization can do for your business.

1. Manage More than One OS 

You can partition a server or computer to run more than one OS. Then, you can have multiple VMs stacked on top of those operating systems. This will allow you to have one server and use its physical resources for more than one environment. 

2. Use More than One Application on One Server

In the 1990s, you’d need one server per application, which was expensive and took up space. Now, you can have one server with multiple VMs and multiple applications!

3. Run Resource Intensive Applications 

Some applications require a lot of resources to run. You can dedicate a VM to only running that application. Also, you can scale the overall resources that are used from the physical machine to give your VMs more or less power. This allows for the scalability of resources dedicated to each VM you create. 

4. Ensure Full Security and Encapsulation 

VMs are more secure than conventional computer systems when it comes to data and operational security. This is because VMs only share data with the kernel. If one VM becomes infected or vulnerable, the remaining machines will be protected because they are partitioned from each other. 

Now you know the benefits of virtualization. Let’s compare features!

The Difference between Virtualization and Cloud Computing

To better understand the differences between virtualization and cloud computing, check out the table below. 

FeatureVirtualization Cloud Computing
Definition Technology Methodology 
PurposeCreate multiple abstracted environments that can be hosted on one physical serverPool and automate virtual resources for on-demand use 
UseDeliver specific environments to users with limited hardware resources Deliver hardware-intensive software or infrastructure to meet business needs
CostHigh CapEx, Low OpEXPublic Cloud: Low CapEx, High OpEx
Private Cloud: High CapEx, Low OpEx
ScalabilityScale upScale out
Workload StatefulStateless
Tenancy Single Multiple 
Virtualization and cloud computing are different but complement each other.

The Verdict 

Virtualization enables you to create as many environments as you need and run them on just one machine. You can also easily transfer virtualized environments as no dependencies exist between environments and hardware. The hypervisor manages all data transactions and takes inferred user needs to define a working environment.

Cloud computing provides you with unlimited infrastructure that is backed up and maintained professionally. All hardware liability is taken care of in both SaaS and IaaS services. 

Final Thoughts

In general, you’ll need both cloud computing and virtualization to perform operations efficiently. Cloud computing will save you a lot of money by not having to set up your own hardware and hosting. 

The SaaS and IaaS models have proven to deliver hassle-free software and infrastructure. You don’t need to worry about updates or fixing something if anything goes wrong. To be a competitive IT department, you can maximize your hardware utilization by using virtualization on top of your cloud computing solution. 

Do you have any more questions? Check the FAQ and Resources sections below!


What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is essentially taking elements such as infrastructure, software, and so on, and packaging them up as a service. Then, end users can use this service easily and seamlessly. With these elements packaged up as services, it’s easier for companies to focus on developing applications rather than worrying about maintaining an environment.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization allows for the partitioning of physical hardware to use those resources to create encapsulated virtual machines or servers that can run other applications. This will enable you to maximize your physical hardware’s resources. Virtualization has changed how we use our physical systems’ resources. 

What is SaaS?

Software as a Service is the ability to host and maintain an application at the provider level and then allow access to that program to subscribers. SaaS is liberating because it frees companies from having to maintain and support complex software and hardware. 

What is a cloud provider?

A cloud provider is a company that offers cloud computing services to its customers. Leading companies include AWS, Azure, Google, and Oracle. You can expect better security and more elegant approaches from these larger companies. Using a cloud provider is much cheaper than hosting your own data.

Does virtualization affect performance?

Yes, this is because I/O between the hardware and virtualized environment has to go through the hypervisor, which acts as a translator. The fastest solution will always be a traditional environment hosted directly on hardware. You often only notice performance challenges when spinning up multiple environments that all need to negotiate for the same resources. 


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