Friday, August 13, 2010

Cloud Computing and Virtualization

Cloud Computing is defined as a pool of virtualized computer resources. Based on this Virtualization the Cloud Computing paradigm allows workloads to be deployed and scaled-out quickly through the rapid provisioning of virtual machines or physical machines. A Cloud Computing platform supports redundant, self-recovering, highly scalable programming models that allow workloads to recover from many inevitable hardware/software failures.

A Cloud Computing platform is more than a collection of computer resources because it provides a mechanism to manage those resources. In a Cloud Computing platform software is migrating from the desktop into the "clouds" of the Internet, promising users anytime, anywhere access to their programs and data. The concept of cloud computing and how virtualization enables it offers so many innovative opportunities that it is not surprising that there are new announcements every day. The innovation will continue and there will be massive value created for customers over the coming years.

Use of Virtualization in cloud computing

Virtualization is one of the elements that makes cloud computing. Though cloud computing does not center on virtualization or any one technology.

Cloud computing can happen without virtualization. Certain hardware, operating system and even application clusters can deliver cloud services. But these technologies can be complicated and costly, often requiring a lot of work to provide a limited set of features.

The more likely scenario is that a private cloud computing environment is built on a virtual infrastructure. Many organizations have deployed virtualization by creating virtual servers on top of their existing networking, storage and security stacks. But with private cloud computing, you need to think about and design these technologies in conjunction with one another.

In other words, you built previous virtual infrastructures on these stacks, but you need to build a private cloud with these stacks.

Cloud computing is as much a methodology as it is a technology. You cannot plan any single element without considering the effect on the others. You also have to add in practices and policies that govern chargeback, monitoring, procurement and many other facets of your IT infrastructure.

For example, the ability to rapidly provision virtual machines does no good if it still takes six weeks to order and install a host server. Furthermore, procurement will always be a problem if chargeback is not recovering costs, and that requires resource and utilization monitoring. If your storage and compute resources have different provisioning schedules, they'll have to be documented and reconciled to properly forecast demand. I could go on, but your business requirements ultimately drive everything.

Private cloud computing does not center on virtualization or any one technology. It uses a set of technologies that have been aligned to be highly flexible and provide a wide range of services. This approach does not require virtualization, but virtualization does lend well to the core concepts of cloud computing.

Virtualization and cloud computing are also so closely connected because the major hypervisor vendors -- VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems -- are putting a lot of emphasis on the cloud. They have closely aligned their products with tools and complementary technologies that promote the adoption of private cloud computing.

Cloud computing is a rapidly evolving discipline, and one that will reshape org charts as fast as it will change data center layouts. It closely aligns with virtualization, but it takes many technologies to be successful.



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