What Is Virtualization, and How Is It Different from the Cloud?

What Is Virtualization, and How Is It Different from the Cloud?

When it comes to enterprise IT, there are few buzzwords you’ll hear more frequently than virtualization and cloud computing. Most people who don’t count themselves as IT folks get confused between the two, and the often-excessive tech talk in the world of business often leaves people frustrated.

These two technologies have proven invaluable for NY-area small- and medium-sized businesses, so it’s important to know what they mean. This brief introduction will help demystify the two and explain how they can be beneficial to your business.

Increasing Efficiency through Virtualization

Without virtualization, the cloud simply couldn’t function. That’s because it’s the underlying technology that facilitates the delivery of online services like virtual desktops, cloud storage and a plethora of other applications.

In a nutshell, virtualization refers to a type of program, known in technical circles as a “hypervisor,” that separates physical computing resources into virtual containers that function as independent machines.

Here’s a typical example of a virtualized computing environment: You have a single server machine (which is basically a powerful computer system). In most cases, this machine will be more than powerful enough to handle multiple roles simultaneously. By using virtualization technology, it’s possible to separate that one machine into multiple virtual machines, with each one functioning like an individual desktop computer. With a network connection, people can then access and use these virtual desktops via a web browser rather than having to rely on powerful and expensive hardware at their desks.

Virtualizing the computing resources of the server makes it possible to deliver full desktop computing experiences to barebones, low-powered computers that need only a monitor, mouse, keyboard and the ability to connect to the network and run a web browser.

The result is increased efficiency, simply because you’re doing more with less. Since client computers are typically too simple to break, there’s only one system you really need to worry about maintaining and upgrading, and that’s the server, which is responsible for handling all the workloads and running the operating system.

Taking Virtualization to the Next Level with Cloud Computing

Now consider the above scenario but, instead of having an in-house server system, imagine a vast data center housing rows of server racks comprising thousands of gigabytes of memory and thousands of high-end processors.

You don’t exactly need such a machine just to send an email or edit a Word document, so instead, the server farm uses virtualization to deliver thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of unique desktop experiences to businesses and individuals all over the country and beyond. This is the cloud, where computing workloads are delivered over the web.

While we’re on the topic, you’ll also encounter the terms private and public cloud. The above example refers to public cloud services, provided by large companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, whereby multiple customers use resources in the same physical data center. A private cloud, however, may be located on-site or outsourced to a service provider, with workloads handled off-site and delivered over the web. However, unlike public cloud services, your data and applications are handled by hardware that only you have access to.

If you’re still baffled by the concepts of virtualization and cloud computing, then let Red Key Solutions worry about your IT instead. If you’re ready to usher in a new age of productivity by making technology work for you, then give us a call today.