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 Differences between virtualization, private clouds and virtual data centers

As technology continues to evolve, it is important for business owners and IT decision-makers to stay on top of what is currently available, what is coming in the future, and how these innovations relate to how companies do business. The first thing one must consider is that virtualization is essential to the private cloud but it is not a term or concept that can be used interchangeably.  Why? Private cloud infrastructure builds on many of the capabilities that virtualization already provides to its users.

Taking this point further, let’s now consider the difference between private cloud and a virtual data center.  A private cloud is not an “out of the box” alternative to a virtual data center.  Virtualization is a critical underlying technology that enables the private cloud.  Virtualization also provides a high level of system utilization which abstracts the workloads from underlying hardware. The applications in each virtual machine (VM) are then decoupled from the servers.  Workloads can be run on any suitable virtualized server.  Also, workloads can easily be migrated between virtualized servers with only a small amount of disruption in performance—which may not be at all discernible for its users.

Virtualization provides significant benefits in workload provisioning, management and protection, but it still requires direct support and intervention from IT staff. However, private cloud infrastructure builds on the benefits of virtualization to add new features that ultimately reduce reliance on IT staff.  This includes self-service, scalability and chargebacks.

Self-service, also referred to as automation, allows users to designate and run new virtual machines without direct intervention from IT.  If say the accounting department of a company wants to introduce a new server application, they can set up the VM, allocate computing resources, install the application and handle related tasks themselves instead of waiting for IT to get involved. Additionally, users can scale the computing resources for their VMs on demand depending on the amount of storage or memory, etc. that is required to maintain smooth functionality.

The private cloud also integrates reporting and chargeback features, which can track computing resource use and bill VM owners automatically based on utilization. This allows the VM owners to understand the financial implications of their computing choices with an incentive to make the most frugal computing decisions possible for their department.

Operating a private cloud environment is not always easy. As with any important business decision, there are risks and rewards. Decision makers need to consider the amount of planning and discipline required to take a “hands on” approach to IT resources. Successful adoption of the private cloud requires an understanding of the company’s computing needs and the willingness to leave the traditional IT paradigm behind.     


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