Cloud computing has become almost synonymous with virtualization despite the fact that they are two very different technologies. Part of that coupling of the lingo in business is due to the fact that the cloud is and has been extremely dependent on virtualization. Actually, one could argue that virtualization is essential to the cloud.
There are four crucial features that virtualization affords to cloud computing:
- Elastic capacity – Many cloud users desire and even expect to have the ability to rapidly deploy new server instances and high scalability. Virtual machines make provisioning and deploying images a cinch.
- Maximizing resources to lower cost – Rather than having to isolate single applications on dedicated servers, cloud providers can stack multiple applications or even multiple platforms on single machines to get the most out of the hardware and power. The result is that they need fewer servers and save money on energy and resources.
- Easy migration and backup – The cloud is supposed to be easier, and with traditional hosting, few tasks are more tedious that server migration or backup/restore procedures. Virtualization can help make the process easier while reducing downtime
- A more controlled environment – With virtual machines, the service provider can easily deploy identical images that are optimized and secured to provide better uptime and reliability. This gives providers more assurance of reliability when they offer an SLA (service-level agreement) to customers.
Virtualization is the wind that keeps the cloud afloat. Cloud customers rely on the scalability, cost effectiveness, reliability, and redundancy that virtualization offers. Without it, the cloud is incomplete.