Understanding cloud benefits and virtualization

June 14, 2016

The advantages of virtualization and the cloud depend entirely on your business requirements

In earlier posts, we discussed such unhelpful cloud notions as all-or-nothing strategies, security-related fears, and an obsession with cost control. We should also clarify how virtualization relates to today’s cloud technology and how best to envision the benefits of cloud migration.

Cloud legend #5: Virtualization and private cloud are the same thing

It’s helpful to keep these terms distinct and make use of virtualization and the cloud as it best benefits your business. Virtualization technology has been around for many years, longer than the cloud. Virtualization removes the dependency between software and hardware resources and physical hardware systems. Instead, you create a virtual version of a device such as a server or network equipment, or of a resource such as an operating system. The virtualized resources are in many ways more manageable, economical, and easier to operate and safeguard than their non-virtualized versions. In data centers, virtualization helps to reduce IT costs by making it possible to use resources more efficiently.

Virtualization software tools are all about enabling you to make the best use of hardware—servers, storage mechanisms, and so on. Virtualization is a facilitating technology for cloud services and helps deliver its value, but virtualization and cloud are not the same. The cloud supports self-service capabilities, flexibility, scalability, and automation in ways that far transcend virtualization.

The choice between virtualization and cloud computing should depend on your current and long-term, anticipated business needs. Have limited IT staff, prefer to run on an operational expenses (OpEx) model, expect to require significant scalability, want to implement a pay-as-you-go, and expect limited integration needs? The cloud may be best for you. On the other hand, if you have strong IT resources, function in a capital expense (CapEx) model, wish to keep infrastructure management as a direct IT budget item, foresee complex integration requirements, and are most interested in optimizing the way your business uses computing hardware—virtualization may be the way to go.

Cloud legend #6: Cloud migration automatically realizes cloud characteristics

When you migrate applications and data to the cloud, you do not automatically generate all possible cloud benefits or implement all the cloud attributes that Gartner analysts or others defined. You need to plan and quantify the cloud benefits you aim to realize just like other aspects of your cloud strategy. You may want to experiment with small workloads and more delimited cloud deployments before you commit to full-scale re-platforming and refactoring complex, sizeable workloads in the cloud to achieve the full spectrum of cloud benefits.

Also, remember that cloud-native services do not yield the same outcomes as applications shifted and hosted in the cloud—the true cloud services are typically more effective and prompt in delivering on the potential of the cloud.

Let’s call it a day for dismantling frequently voiced, erroneous notions regarding the cloud, but do let us know if there are any other cloud legends we might want to shine a light on. Next, we take a look at some of the most interesting and important cloud developments.

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Blog posts in the cloud series:

If you would like to talk, or have questions and feedback, please get in touch. Send me an email at lcunha [at] to-increase.com, find me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, or contact To-Increase.

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