When business owners have a desire to optimize and update the IT infrastructure of their company, they face a dilemma - what solution to use?

Cloud computing and virtualization are the terms that are interchangeably used and are mistakenly treated as the same thing. But in fact, these are two different concepts with a unique constellation of features and designed for solving different challenges.

So which one should you choose for your IT infrastructure optimization? In this article, we are going to make a point and decide which solution will work better for your organization.

What is cloud computing?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) gives the precise definition of cloud computing and defines it as a model that provides pervasive, on-demand, convenient network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources such as networks, servers, databases, software, etc. The key advantages of cloud computing are that it requires minimal management effort and drastically decreases costs for maintenance and support.

Cloud computing solutions are delivered through 3 basic service models:

  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) — provides customers with computing resources that allow installing customer’s OS and applications.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) — delivers an environment that allows deploying customer-created applications.
  • Software as a service (SaaS) — gives access to provider’s applications that are run on a cloud infrastructure.

According to NIST, you’ve created a cloud if it follows all these essential characteristics:

  1. On-demand self-service. Computing capabilities are provisioned by an automated system without any human interaction.
  2. Broad network access. Capabilities are available through various devices (PCs, laptops, smartphones, etc.) with the use of the network.
  3. Resource pooling. The provider’s physical and virtual resources are available for multiple customers via the multi-tenant model on the user’s demand.
  4. Rapid elasticity. Computing capabilities are unlimited and could be scaled rapidly both outward and inward on the customer’s demand.
  5. Measured service. The use of resources is being automatically controlled and optimized, so the user pays for the number of services they consume.

If at least one of the following characteristics is not met, then it is not cloud computing.

Advantages of cloud computing

  • Reduced costs for managing and maintenance since you will be using your provider’s resources and will no longer need to hire experts, consume energy for server operation.
  • Automatically updated systems that do not require your involvement and are usually included in your fee.
  • Could be easily adjusted to your scalability needs and you will only pay for the resources you currently use.
  • Availability for users from any location with the Internet connection.
  • Almost limitless storage capacity is provided to store the amount of data you need for flawless operation of your IT assets.
  • Business continuity is provided in cases of disaster, power failure, or other unpredictable accidents because the data is reliably backed up.

Disadvantages of cloud computing

  • As you share all your company’s data with a third-party provider, you are taking security risks because the vendor might get hacked and your data is under the risk of appearing in the hands of black hats.
  • If you lose connection with your provider or do not have access to the Internet, your important data and resources won’t be available for you, which can result in business downtime.
  • Bugs, breaches, or synchronization issues from the vendor’s side could lead to poor operation of your devices and software.
  • Your data travels through networks without proper protection and encryption creating splendid conditions for hackers.

The confusion between cloud computing and virtualization arises because they rely on similar models and are frequently used together to provide various types of services. Since cloud computing can include virtualization for providing the service, let’s define what virtualization is and identify its characteristics.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization is a technology that enables you to create multiple independent environments on a single physical hardware or software system. Simply put, it makes one resource act like many resources that are independent of one another.

Since virtualization is capable of completing different tasks, its 5 basic types can be distinguished:

  • Desktop — runs multiple virtual desktops on one or a few physical servers that are hosted at the same location.
  • Application — separates the application from the operating system and runs it in a “sandbox”, so the app becomes a stand-alone software and could be run from the end user’s device.
  • Hardware — also known as server virtualization, allows running multiple virtual machines on a large physical server with the use of hypervisor, a virtual machine manager.
  • Network — physical networks are decoupled from the underlying network hardware and are combined in a single software-based resource.
  • Storage — groups physical hard drives into a single virtual storage device.

So basically, virtualization is creating a virtual version of physical software, application, servers, networks, etc.

Virtualization is characterized by:

  1. Partitioning. Multiple applications or OS are run on one device.
  2. Isolation. Virtual OS is isolated from the host OS at the hardware level.
  3. Encapsulation. The virtual machine could be encapsulated into a single file, which could be copied, moved, or backed up easily.

Advantages of virtualization

  • Reduced operating costs since you buy access to the server from the provider instead of investing in creating an on-site resource and can always predict your costs for the service.
  • Increased efficiency, agility, and responsiveness with flexible easy-to-manage solutions that could be rapidly delivered on the customer’s demand.
  • Simplified management since providers automatically update software, hardware without involving your IT team.
  • Better disaster recovery thanks to up-to-date snapshots that allow you to quickly set all assets to work.
  • Greater energy savings because you do not have local physical servers, so it lowers cooling costs and monthly power.
  • Fast server deployment since virtual machines are easier to deploy than physical servers, which maximizes the uptime.

Disadvantages of virtualization

  • It is not elastic and the customer can’t add or remove resources on demand.
  • Virtualization technology could be implemented and managed by a qualified IT specialist, which can involve extra costs.
  • It creates availability issues since the organization’s data that is being virtualized is controlled by a third-party provider.
  • Virtualization might require extra equipment to be implemented, which involves extra investments.

What should you choose for your business?

The choice solely depends on the business solutions you are delivering to your customers and your goals.

Both virtualization and cloud computing are on the rise nowadays and companies have significantly reduced their costs and boosted performance thanks to these solutions.

For small companies, cloud computing may sound like the smartest choice because it is easier and cost-effective in terms of implementation. All the data is accessible on the go via the Internet connection. Cloud computing is a sound idea for developing or seasonal businesses because of better scalability. It is frequently used for SRM and VoIP systems.

Some businesses choose virtualization for its flexibility, hardware independence, and better security. It is essential for testing, development, or product demonstration.

Though each of these solutions has its own set of disadvantages, there is one thing that is common for both of them — the difficulty to find qualified IT specialists capable of installing and supporting your company.

PRONKO has the right expertise in both fields. Our IT support agent will help you work out the best solution for you. Either you need a piece of advice on what will suit your business better, or would like to move from virtualization to cloud computing, we have you covered. PRONKO developers have specific knowledge and skills to deliver the best solution for you. Reach our PRONKO support team to get to know about our cloud computing and virtualization solutions.

Cloud Management