Friday, June 3, 2011

Virtualization and Cloud Computing – Is there a difference?

One common question I keep getting asked is the difference between Virtualization and Cloud Computing. I even have colleagues and friends who swear that Cloud Computing is glorified Virtualization.

Lets explore this subject.

Virtualization in its simplest form is all about enabling a virtual access to a physical computing resource. Why do you need this? A single physical resource can be accessed in multiple ways or by multiple users simultaneously. Each user uses their own OS or access mechanism to interact with the underlying physical resource. A technology known as the ‘hypervisor’ that abstracts the physical resource from the users/systems accessing it is core to the virtualization technology.


Cloud computing is about allowing users to access computer resources on a need basis (basically as a service) and do away with the concept of ownership. This also would mean aspects of self service, pay for what you use and inherently unlimited computing power. Cloud Computing is not a technology, it is a business paradigm. Virtualization is an important technology that enables cloud computing by optimizing physical resource sharing.Cloud computing can also be enabled without virtualization but it would be an inefficient way of doing it.

Simply put, as one website succinctly captures the differences in the following statement

“Virtualization is basically one physical computer pretending to be many computing environments; cloud computing is many different computers pretending to be the one computing environment, hence allowing easier scaling”

Do share your thoughts on where else the differences lie.

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1 comment:

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