A common misconception people have when talking about technology in modern business is that cloud computing and virtualization is the same and used interchangeably. While cloud computing and virtualization share a similar element, understanding the difference between them can help a business to achieve optimum productivity. Given the overwhelming information for both types of virtual infrastructures, it is understandable why there is such confusion. Let’s explore the underlining differences between virtualization and cloud computing, and which one of these infrastructures you should employ to ensure maximum return on investment.

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization, in simple words is the process to generate virtual editions of a business’ infrastructure resources, contrary to creating physical or actual versions of the same. These resources include computing environment, storage devices, network components, as well as operating systems. For instance, if you have a host server (physical) which controls all the physical resources like the operating systems, storage, memory, etc., then those resources can be allotted to virtual machines. Virtualization allows running multiple infrastructure resources on a same hardware that can be accessed by a virtual machine manager.

A virtual machine manager controls the access to the physical hardware of a host, creates the virtual machines and runs them. The following are the two types of virtual machine managers:

Bare metal hypervisor – Runs the physical hardware directly and allows many operating systems to run on a same physical hardware.

Hosted hypervisor – Runs the operating system of a physical hardware, whereas additional operating systems are run within the physical hardware’s operating system.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing, on the other hand, is the deliverance of shared resources, data or software as a service through the internet. Unlike virtualization, which is a component of the physical infrastructure, cloud computing is completely virtual. Cloud computing works on top of virtualization, and consists of computing, network and storage components. There are many types of cloud computing services, for instance Saas, Iaas, Paas, etc., but they work on the same horizon that incorporate scalability, agility, on-demand delivery and automation.

What Suits You More?

Virtualization reduces complexity for the end user, allowing more effective utilization of the IT resources in an organization. But clouds as a service takes the utilization of these resources to a whole new level through access delivery of components on-demand, helping to further reduce complexity and costs. For businesses that plan to go ‘virtual’ eventually, virtualization is the first step to adopt when considering a cloud hosting strategy.

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