On Cloud Computing: Virtualization and Its Role

Posted by David Urbina on December 26, 2017

The rise of faster, more reliable internet connections and the evolution of virtualization helped contribute to the emergence of cloud computing.

While it is evident that internet connections have become quicker and stronger over the years, virtualization might be a bit more obscure or even alien to many.

So, what is virtualization?

Virtualization

Virtualization is technology that has allowed us to take a single, physical hardware system and divide it up for the purpose of creating multiple virtual environments or dedicated resources on the same machine.

Virtualization essentially gives a single resource the capabilities to act as a multitude of resources.

A server, for example, generally does not utilize the full extent of the processing power of its hosting hardware. This leaves valuable processing power potentially untapped and, well, wasted.

This wastefulness becomes apparent when you realize that perhaps a business might need a database server, a web server, and even a mail server, too. In the times of yesteryear, the best approach for building this infrastructure might have been in having three physical hardware systems for each server, with each using up a fraction of the hardware’s total processing power. That translated into an inefficient use of physical space and computing resources, and as a result, an inefficient use of money, too.

But the virtualization of operating systems has allowed a physical hardware system to have the capabilities to host multiple, independent virtual machine alongside each other.

Each virtual machine has its own virtual hardware, such as virtual memory and a virtual disk, and on top of this its own operating system on which the database server, or the web server, or the mail server can run on.

What does this translate to?

Well, a more efficient use of hardware. What previously took three physical hardware systems could potentially be done on a single hardware system using virtualization to partition the hardware’s resources into three independent virtual machines.

This further translates into less physical space occupied by extra hardware and a more efficient use of money.


So, with faster, more reliable internet connections and the improved capabilities of virtualization, you might see how cloud computing has flourished.

Or maybe cloud computing might be a little alien, too.

You’ve probably heard of it, though, right? But what really is cloud computing?

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a service that delivers computing resources behind the abstraction of the internet.

Take, for example, public cloud computing and large public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure. Somewhere out in the world, these cloud providers have large data centers housing hardware. As consumers or customers, we don’t have physical access to this hardware – but we do have access to the raw compute power of the hardware, and this is via the internet – hence “the cloud.”

This compute power translates to different services and includes things like servers, databases, software, and even virtual machines, all delivered and made accessible over the internet.

On-Demand Nature

At its core, cloud computing takes advantage of virtualization to efficiently provision these services. Even though the internet abstracts any physical interaction with hardware, the hardware still exists somewhere. And it is this physical hardware on which virtualization is used to essentially divide up and create new resources for customers to consume.

Virtualization is paired with automation to give cloud computing its on-demand nature – which allows for the automated provisioning and management of computing resources.

In the times of yesteryear, let’s say you wanted to scale up your server. This would have likely required you to upgrade the hardware for the server, or even buy another server, plus all the manual work involved in getting everything set up.

But with cloud computing, a few click on a cloud provider’s online portal can carry out the automated process of provisioning a new server for you. And just like that, the resources are there and available for you to consume.

Conclusion

Cloud computing has undoubtedly transformed how we consume, access, and manage IT resources.

But what does it really mean to you?

It means, for one, that there’s no need for your own hardware to support the infrastructure of your project or platform.

And this includes all of the required management and maintenance behind supporting that hardware when all you really need and want at the end of the day is the compute power that fuels that database you need or that additional server you want to kick up.

This means that there are fewer barriers for businesses to either take the step into a technological migration or to scale up an existing setup.

This all translates to more time for you to focus on the things that matter most.

And a much more inexpensive way of achieving it all.

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