What is the Difference Between Virtualization and the Private Cloud?

If you read the statistics, use of the private cloud infrastructure is on the rise. In fact, some years it has doubled year over year. Some resources have private cloud use as high as 70 percent. But if you study the subject a little more, you quickly realize that the increase is only partially due to an actual growth in the use of the private cloud. The rest is inflated due to a lack of understanding and a confusion over the terminology that defines cloud computing as opposed to a virtualized environment.

Further clouding the cloud issue are vendors that have deliberately tried to rebrand their existing products as ‘cloud’ based in order to capitalize on the growing popularity of cloud computing. This trend is called ‘cloud washing’. Hence, many companies are using a product called cloud-based when it actually doesn’t involve the use of a real cloud environment at all.

So, what differentiates the private cloud from virtualization?

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization and the private cloud

Before buying a service billed as ‘cloud’ based, make sure it is actually a cloud environment and not simply a virtualized environment that has been rebranded to take advantage of the popularity of the cloud.

Virtualization is the abstraction of a workload from the hardware system used to store and process that workload. Virtualization allows the centralization or pooling of the storage, networking and computing resources. Virtualization allows the workload to be distributed dynamically according to resource availability. However, centralization of managed resources does not a cloud make. Even if the entire infrastructure is virtualized, it may not necessarily be a cloud environment.

What is the Private Cloud?

Virtualization and the private cloud


The cloud is always virtualized, but virtualization does not mean you’re dealing with a true cloud environment.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has defined cloud computing as a ‘model for enabling on-demand network access to a shared pool of resources that can be rapidly provisioned with minimal effort or interaction’. There are five criteria for determining and defining a true cloud environment. First, it has to be an on-demand service. Second, it has to feature broad network access. Third, it has to include the pooling of resources. Fourth, it has to feature rapid elasticity. Fifth, it hast to be a measured service or a pay-per-use model.

If even one of these criteria is missing, it is not a true private cloud. It is important to note that different experts may define the cloud a bit differently, but almost all of the experts are in agreement that a cloud environment is more than simply sharing a pool of resources, or virtualizing and environment. There has to be some kind of automated provisioning, some flexibility and scalability, and a way to keep track of and charge for the use of system resources.

Why the Private Cloud?

One of the primary selling points for nearly all cloud services is price. However, cost savings isn’t the goal of cloud computing. The strongest benefits of the private cloud are self-service, the ability to track resources, and the flexibility and scalability to meet a changing or fluctuating demand. It may or may not lead to cost savings. The prime question in determining whether the private cloud is right for your needs is whether or not it will lead to improved service. A cost-benefits analysis between virtualization and the private cloud should tell you whether cost savings is also a factor to consider.

Are you ready to get started on your private cloud and join the growing ranks of those benefiting from the powerful potential of cloud computing? Bigstep can help. Get started today!

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  1. In fact is not so big difference. Many peoples is considering a virtual servers farm as the core of a private Cloud development. More that, many Cloud datacenters are running on virtual machines.
    The only clear difference is between virtual applications and SaaS. First are client-server virtual running on applications installed on a servers farm. Second is a clear subscription access to applications running in the cloud servers.

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