Cloud Computing and Virtualization – what’s the difference?

Although they do rely on similar operational principles and models, they also have some key differences, which this article will explore.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization involves replacing a physical component with a virtual one. This means that a physical structure like a storage device or network is created virtually. There are many different types of virtualization ranging from virtual storage devices, through to virtual operating systems and networks. Virtualization takes something physical, builds a model of it and turns it into code. This software program will function just like the thing it is modeling, for example, a virtual server sends signals just like any other server despite having no physical components.

Why is it confused with the cloud?

Put simply, one of the ways virtualization works is by creating virtual machines that act like a computer without all the nuts and bolts of a physical machine which can give the impression that it is working in the same way as cloud computing. Network virtualization can, therefore, replace individual servers and networks and interact with each other making them a perfect test arena for networks and other software.

Unlike virtualization, cloud computing involves real computers and hardware that are interconnected and send data across their network. Often the data is sent to remote locations through the network which we know as ‘the cloud’. Cloud computing is become more and more popular and provides access to a huge and secure data storage facility which can be purchased by users. One of the benefits is that all the responsibility for the data then rests with the cloud service provider.

In a nutshell

Cloud computing is where vendors provide a specific network set up, whereas virtualization is the replacement of real-life devices and hardware with software.

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