Virtualization & Private Cloud Strategies Offer Distinct Advantages
July 09, 2012
While virtualization and private cloud strategies may seem similar on the surface, the two strategies are actually quite different, with each having their own specific set of rewards and challenges.
The IT community has long supported a doctrine by which networks, servers, and the data they're responsible for aren't tied to specific pieces of hardware. To that end, two primary strategies emerged – those of virtualization and private cloud. Virtualization was the first such strategy to make a play, and is what's known as "a fixture of an IT estate". Virtualization often requires higher initial costs than private cloud computing, as establishing the necessary systems and hardware for virtualization can be complex and therefore expensive. Cloud computing, which is more of a pay-as-you-go sort of strategy, has a clear edge on virtualization, as someone else – here, the cloud provider – has taken on the expenses on the user's behalf, recouping their investment by charging for access.
Yet this savings comes at a price in terms of access and customization options. Cloud systems can easily offer more capacity, and in the case where a company simply needs more than its current provider can offer, a new, or merely supplementary, provider can be looked into. Expanding a virtualization system, meanwhile, requires capital expansions, more equipment, and thus, more expense, while expansion in the cloud often requires a slight uptick in the amount paid per term of the contract. While there is no limit to what a virtualization system can do, every step of that system's expansion will have to be paid for in advance, which can get expensive.
Further, reliability often plays a role in the operations here. When a private cloud system goes down, the system is down until its owners can step in to fix it. Depending on the company offering the service and the nature of the issue that caused the down time, that amount of time can be either long or short, depending. For a company that practices virtualization, however, they can be on top of a problem within minutes of it appearing, as workers notify IT that the network is down or the like. With some strategic moves arranged in advance, during down times, savvy enterprises can arrange to migrate to backup cloud providers. Either way, down time can affect a business' bottom line in a variety of ways, so enterprise users will need to ask themselves if they can occasionally absorb some down time, or if they must be back online as rapidly as possible.
Neither private cloud nor virtualization is a clear, immediate winner over another. Each offers its own particular suite of strengths, as well as its particular challenges. Just which will be most appropriate for each individual enterprise user will be as different as each enterprise user is from another. Selecting just which principle to go with, however, will be a necessary step that, when done correctly, may not only improve the overall operations, but also directly aid the bottom line.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo