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Cloud Computing vs. Virtualization: What’s the difference?

The terms cloud computing and virtualization are often used interchangeably.

But, in reality, both technologies offer different approaches to managing an organization’s data infrastructure while reducing the cost of computing resources.

Let’s take a look at these technologies and examine what makes them different.

Virtualization: Many Servers on the Same Hardware

Basically, virtualization allows an organization to run multiple “virtual” servers on the same hardware, eliminating the need for additional hardware.

In the past, when an organization wanted to add a new application to their existing infrastructure, they would need to purchase additional hardware to increase their computing power. Over time, this course of action ended up costing a lot of money.

Virtualization offers a solution to this problem.

Here’s how it works. One server controls access to the physical server’s computing resources. This is often referred to as the host server. Any additional servers run virtually within containers provided by the host server.

This eliminates the need for additional hardware and, ultimately, cuts down on energy costs too.

Cloud Computing: A Third-party Service

Cloud computing is similar to virtualization in that it lets an organization run multiple applications without having to purchase additional hardware. All you need to get started is secure access to the internet because your data is transmitted via internet protocols.

The server hardware that manages your organization’s date is located offsite. In fact, cloud computing is often distributed across many dedicated servers which provides high availability and redundancy.

Essentially, cloud computing is a service while virtualization is a part of your physical IT infrastructure. The user does not necessarily need to know the location and configuration of the system that delivers the service because those details are handled by the vendor.

Which is Right for My Business?

Determining whether your organization needs virtualization or cloud computing depends on many factors, and for many businesses the decision hinges primarily on costs and security.

Virtualization generally requires higher upfront costs because you must first purchase hardware to run your virtualized servers. While virtualization will save your organization money overtime, it does require a considerable investment early on. The great thing about virtualization is that your servers are running onsite so the level of security is high. It’s like your own mini-cloud that you control access to. This makes virtualization an excellent choice for organizations that require a lot of security like government agencies and financial institutions.

Unlike virtualization, cloud computing requires low upfront costs because there is no need to purchase any hardware. You pay a third party provider for the resources your organization needs to function and nothing more. However, as time goes by and your needs grow, you will need to purchase additional resources. Over time, paying for each additional resource as your business grows could end up costing more money than using virtual servers on your own infrastructure. Another important factor to consider with cloud computing is that your placing the safety of your organization’s data in the hands of a third party vendor. If you’re considering cloud computing, be sure to choose a vendor that is reputable.

Still not sure which technology is best for your organization’s IT infrastructure? Let the experts at AMRCON help you determine the right technology for your business. Fill out our Free Network Audit request form for more information.