Virtualization vs Cloud Computing – What’s The Difference?

Virtualization vs Cloud Computing – What’s The Difference? (Pros and Cons). Which approach should an organization choose when looking to enhance and optimize their IT infrastructure?

Virtualization and cloud computing are two very different IT approaches that are often used in conjunction. With that said, they each have their own set of pros and cons and are used to address different IT challenges. 

In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of virtualization and cloud computing. Let’s start.

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is a technology that enables the creation of multiple simulated environments and virtual machines over one physical computer or server. 

The virtualization software utilizes “hypervisor” – a thin layer of software designed to enable one computer to host multiple virtual machines (VMs). 

VMs are software platforms that can run their own operating systems. They can function as independent computers even though they only use or share a portion of the underlying hardware.

The hypervisor allocates computing power to each VM as per requirement – this allows for effective and optimized levels of hardware utilization.

3 Use Cases of Virtualization

Virtual Machines – are virtual environments with a fully functional operating system. Examples of virtual machines are virtual desktops and servers.  

Virtual Resources – are technology solutions that can divide a single physical resource into several virtual resources, or they can be used to combine multiple physical resources into one virtual resource. 

Virtual Applications – are implemented at the operating system level through software packages that can create standalone software and databases which don’t require installation. The software and databases can run immediately. 

Pros of Virtualization

  • Optimized Resource Utilization – this is possible since virtualization places multiple virtual servers on one physical server resulting in optimized server consolidation and complete utilization of computing power. 
  • Hardware Independence is supported with full virtualization because the virtual software operates on virtual hardware that is user specified. At the same time, the system is completely separated from the host’s physical hardware.
  • Isolation – the OS of a virtual machine is completely isolated from the OS of the host machine so any changes to the virtual OS will not impact the host OS.
  • Minimal Downtime – this is possible since admins can run several virtual machines side by side and switch between the systems in case of any issue.  
  • Encapsulation – VMs are encapsulated within a single file so they are easy to manage or move or even backup as and when required.  
  • Robust Redundancy – is possible because copies of virtual machines can be easily deployed over different hardware and enables robust redundancy and high availability.
  • Maximum Uptime – is possible because virtual machines can be deployed quickly when compared to physical servers.  

Cons of Virtualization

  • Significant Cost Investment – is necessary for the initial stages. Although over time virtualization can deliver cost efficiency and lower operating costs. Small and medium-sized businesses may find it financially challenging to invest in virtualization. 
  • Backup Challenges – the lack of a hard drive on which data and systems can be backed up can create backup challenges. Additional tools will have to be configured to ensure data backups. 
  • Challenges in Resource Distribution – once systems have been portioned via virtualization, it could lead to some systems functioning at optimal levels while others might limit user access to certain resources impacting user experience.  
  • Hardware Limitations – effectively determine the deployment or retraction of virtual machines. Resources cannot be added beyond hardware limitations. In addition, users cannot automatically provision resources as required. 
  • Server Sprawl Vulnerability – can impact a healthy virtual environment. The ease of creating virtual servers within minutes can lead to the issue of server sprawl. 
  • Infrastructure Maintenance – is required since VMs are a part of the overall IT infrastructure of an organization.

Next in this article blog about Virtualization vs Cloud Computing – What’s The Difference? is to talk about cloud computing.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is an environment that delivers virtualized resources and services such as computing power and data storage on-demand via the internet. Cloud computing is mobilized by automation and management solutions that enable users to access the cloud environment via self-service portals that are supported by dynamic resource allocation and automatic scaling

All cloud services and resources are hosted and managed by a cloud service provider (CSP) located at a remote data center. 

Cloud Computing types

3 Types of cloud computing services include the following;

1. Software as a Service (SaaS) – is the most common type of cloud based service. SaaS offers access to software via a browser or app which means there is no need for any hardware installation or maintenance requirements. 

2. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – further builds on SaaS and manages the software and hardware, and other requirements such as servers and storage of the user.  

3. Platform as a Service (PaaS) – offers support for application development and deployment. 

3 Types of cloud computing services

Pros of Cloud Computing

  • Cost efficiency – cloud computing services are structured on a pay-as-you-go pricing model so organizations can plan their infrastructure expenses. Organizations also save on costs associated with installation, configuration, and maintenance of physical hardware.
  • Agility – the cloud offers organizations the flexibility to speed up business processes. With the CSP managing all the infrastructure, storage, and hosting requirements, the IT teams of an organization can optimize their time and resources.
  • Scalability – with cloud services an organization can scale capacity up or down as per their current requirements. There is no need for excess storage units and hardware that otherwise could remain unused when traffic declines.  
  • Mobility – the cloud allows employees easy access to resources and data through different devices (smartphones, laptops, etc.) from any location. 
  • Security – the CSP is responsible for basic cybersecurity procedures to ensure compliance. Cloud services offer data backup thereby ensuring easy data recovery. 
  • Visibility – cloud based systems store all documents in one location. All the employees have access to the same data and any revision or update to the data is recorded. This results in data consistency and avoidance of data duplication or human errors. 

Cons of Cloud Computing

  • Privacy Concerns – cloud computing is heavily monitored. So not only is every user action visible to the provider, but the cloud providers also often handle personal user information which can be misused. 
  • Risk of Unavailability of Services – anytime a cloud service becomes unavailable, users will not be able to access data and computing resources. 
  • Reliability Challenges – synchronization issues caused by lack of reliability can impact user experience and even lead to loss of data. 
  • Performance Issues – can manifest itself due to infrastructure issues, the lack of resources, or bugs. Each of these can lead to poor performance and impact user experience.
  • Security Breaches – while CSPs take service security very seriously, they cannot offer fool-proof security against hackers and data breaches. Corporate data and systems can also be hacked by insiders and weakened by negligent users – cloud services cannot secure against these internal risks. 

Virtualization vs Cloud Computing – Top 6 Differences


Cloud Computing

Virtualization refers to the use of one physical hardware system for creating multiple virtual environments or dedicated resources.

Cloud computing supports the distribution of computer services including servers, storage, and networking via the Internet.

Virtualization delivers packaged resources to specified users to accomplish a specified task or objective.

Cloud computing offers users in groups a range of resources for different objectives and purposes.

Virtualization offers low-scalability.

Cloud computing is highly scalable.

Virtualization is dependent on one peripheral.

Cloud computing relies on multiple machines in the event of a disaster recovery.

In virtualization configuration is image-based.

In cloud computing configuration is template- based.

Virtualization involves High CAPEX but Low OPEX.

Cloud computing: Private cloud involves High CAPEX and Low OPEX. Public cloud involves Low CAPEX and High OPEX.

Well, thanks for reading our article Virtualization vs Cloud Computing – What’s The Difference? until the end. Let’s summarize. 

Virtualization vs Cloud Computing – What’s The Difference? Conclusion

While both virtualization and cloud computing offer different IT approaches to an organization, they can each help your organization effectively address its IT requirements. They can also be used in conjunction to optimize your overall IT infrastructure cost effectively and conveniently. 

In the article, we have provided the pros and cons of both virtualization and cloud computing and the key differences between the two approaches. Pertaining to this, when deciding which IT approach to follow, your choice should ultimately depend on critical factors such as your business goals, requirements, the desired IT infrastructure in keeping with future demands and your budget.

With that said, you can also use both virtualization and cloud computing to address your IT requirements. 

Please read more of our content about VMware here.

Avatar for Benjamin Roussey
Benjamin Roussey

Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA but now lives in Arizona. His bachelor’s degree is from CSUS (1999) where he was on a baseball pitching scholarship and he completed 4 years in the US Navy. He has an MBA in Global Management from the Univ. of Phoenix (2006). He has worked everywhere from small businesses to large corporations, and also for public agencies. He has lived in South Korea and Saudi Arabia where he was an ESL instructor. Now he writes professionally for several clients and many of them in the tech community. He knows these topics well. He’s been focused on the tech arena since 2010. Currently he lives in the Phoenix area. He enjoys sports, movies, reading, and current events when he is not working online.

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