Private Cloud 32
Virtualization vs. the Private Cloud
John Savill
August 23, 2013

Q. How is the private cloud different from virtualization?

A. The difference can be confusing. Virtualization is a key piece of the private cloud—and therein lies the difference. Virtualization is just one piece of a private cloud deployment.

Virtualization provides abstraction of the OS from the underlying hardware, allowing multiple OSs to run on a single piece of hardware. This capability leads to fewer wasted resources, new capabilities (thanks to the abstraction of the OS from specific hardware), faster provisioning, and cost savings. Organizations might focus on server virtualization or client virtualization—also known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

In comparison, a private cloud focuses on delivering key services to the business through an integrated solution that comprises these components:

  • Compute (servers, hypervisor)
  • Storage
  • Network
  • Management

It is the last item—the management—that really provides the key difference between virtualization and a private cloud. The management layer provides management and abstraction of the resource layers (compute, storage, and network), which enables the benefits associated with the private cloud (pooling of resources, self-service, and so on).

With private cloud management in place, all the compute, network, and storage resources are centrally managed. This centralization allows the resources to be grouped and allocated logically, enabling a variety of scenarios. For example, a user can require the deployment of a three-tier service in Houston and Dallas, connected to backup and production networks on a silver tier of storage.

Private cloud management has connections to all resources, which have been grouped logically. Based on requests, management can pick the appropriate resources to fulfill the request, with minimal to no administrator intervention required. The private cloud also allows all resources to be grouped as a complete unit, into logical units with specific limits (clouds). Different users can then be assigned different quotas for those clouds. Management tools such as Microsoft System Center make such assignments easy. Vendors such as HP design hardware and reference architectures to work with Windows Server, System Center, and other key private cloud components.