Virtualization in
cloud computing
means more
efficient ways
of deploying

Author: Gary Hilson

Virtualization in cloud computing offers many business benefits—but only if you have access to the people who truly understand how virtualization works in cloud computing can implement it effectively.

 Resources delivered via the cloud can be either virtualized or containerized. Applications, storage, compute, networking, servers, and operating systems can be delivered and may look as though they are separate, individual instances to the end user. Behind the scenes, though, each is sharing the same compute, storage and memory resources that are running multiple virtual machines or containers to support the applications. By deploying applications on these architectures, you can take advantage of a more efficient and flexible use of the underlying resources.

What is virtualization in cloud computing?

Virtualization in cloud computing is like buying a share in a large cargo container to ship just a few items. You don't need the whole container, you only need a tiny portion of it. So the shipper allows you to ship your few items with the understanding that they can fill it with other customers' goods. The value of virtualization in cloud computing is ultimately being able to ship items in a large cargo container without having to buy the entire thing, which maximizes the efficiency of the use of expensive resources for the provider, while giving you access to resources that you would not normally be able to afford. It's not that you can't buy your own cargo container—certainly, you can build your own cloud if you think you're going to use enough of it, or have the wherewithal to afford it. A key factor in realizing the business benefits of virtualization, though, is the use of many large containers without the cost of owning and managing them.

Tapping economies of scale

Cloud computing enables organizations to scale up as required (or even scale back) because compute, networking and storage can be added as needed without having to physically spin up new equipment. In the case of server virtualization, a physical server is segmented into multiple virtual servers; going back to the shipping container example, you can portion off only the section of the container that you need to send your cargo.   Your virtual server shares the same processor, operating system and memory resources with other virtual servers on the same physical equipment. You might segment a server into different virtual instances for each line of business—human resources or marketing and finance, for example—because each department on its own only needs a small portion of the capacity available on the physical servers.

What is so nice about this arrangement is that the shipping container or the virtual server looks like it is exactly the size you need for your goods or applications.  You are not aware that it is actually a much larger container that has hundreds or thousands of other users just like you sharing it.  This multi-tenancy enables hyperscalers to pass cost savings to customers because they're able to gain economies of scale from the investment they've made in the physical infrastructure.

Data storage, desktop and beyond

Data storage and backup are examples of how virtualization can deliver business benefits by managing the complexity of a storage area network (SAN) that pools storage devices and presents as a single resource to the host. This allows for a more efficient design of storage by type—application data, backup, recovery or archiving—because there's a virtualized storage resource made of segmented logical units.

Virtualization isn't just for servers in an on-premises or cloud data center. Another business benefit of virtualization is the ability to virtualize the desktop. In addition to delivering applications in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, entire desktop computing systems can be created virtually, which allows for the running of a collection of different applications or even separating operating systems. That means it easily enables the onboarding of a new employee, managing the end user environment and minimizing exposure of sensitive data to staff, and allows for better control of employee access to the applications that they need to perform their jobs, and no more.

Ultimately, cloud computing has enabled many organizations to adopt applications for their business that might not have been otherwise financially feasible. It reduces the overall costs of maintaining a data center, including cooling and power costs, while also making it easier and faster to deploy and redeploy applications. 

Virtualization in cloud computing has its own price tag

Cloud computing has enabled organizations to have access to the compute, networking and storage resources they need without having to spend money upfront for the infrastructure. By leveraging how virtualization works in cloud computing, they can apply it to gain efficiencies in their business.

As with any technology paradigm, there's no one best way to take advantage of cloud computing virtualization, which is why organizations need to plan how they will implement their applications and what approach they will take, be it virtual machine or container. For example, it may make sense to group marketing and HR compute resources together, but more robust hardware capabilities may be needed for a server that must handle a high volume of financial transactions.  No matter what application you are planning on implementing in the cloud, existing or new, it makes sense to make it as cloud native as possible.

While the benefits of using the cloud for applications are great, because it allows you to consolidate and optimize resources, not all applications or services can be virtualized.  For example, some of your applications might be relying on specialized hardware that may not be compatible or cost effective to migrate. Measuring the benefits of virtualization requires that you set up some key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can see where you're getting savings and benefits by reducing downtime, optimizing the deployment of IT staff and automating the provisioning of compute, network and storage resources.

All of this can be a big undertaking, so tapping an outside expert who can help show you how to implement your applications in the cloud and options for cloud implementation may be useful. A managed services provider has the expertise and resources to help maximize the benefits of virtualization in cloud computing.

Learn how Verizon's managed SD WAN solution can help you tap into the business benefits of network virtualization.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.