Cloud or Virtualization: Selecting the Right Path

By CIOReview | Friday, June 23, 2017
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Organizations today are in affix to select between cloud computing and virtualization. Choosing between the two means that they have to evaluate the merits and demerits of both based on their organizational needs. On the one hand, server virtualization saves money at hardware refresh. On the other, cloud computing—private, hybrid or public—is about operational efficiency and passes greater control of IT to the business. The operational readiness of the organization, among other factors, determines whether adopting cloud makes sense.

Benefits of Virtualization

Server virtualization has gained popularity over the course of time owing to massive CapEx savings. A few hypervisor hosts and a management console replace dozens or even hundreds of physical servers. Data centers deploy virtualization and gain huge cost savings from buying fewer servers. Today, server virtualization has become a step towards the path to private and hybrid cloud. Adopting server virtualization brings big cost savings that demonstrate IT's knowledge of business needs, and is less disruptive for IT organizations. Commencing their journey with server virtualization allows a conservative organization to accelerate architecture modernization at a safe pace.

Benefits of Private Cloud

After a few years of virtualization, IT teams build a platform that allows for fast change. The ability to deploy servers in minutes using virtual machines (VMs) allows the IT organization to respond rapidly to business needs. The process when VMs become the bottleneck that lead some IT departments and business users to create and manage their own VMs. Private cloud automates VM provisioning and the surrounding infrastructure. The cloud platform handles provisioning server names, IP addresses, networks and storage. This kind of automation requires IT teams that have prior knowledge on how to control these changes and handle authority to the users.

The Better Path

Cloud computing can be a difficult hurdle for organizations with a lot of compliance and change control gates. Other IT groups will gain a lot of agility from immediately responding to changing business requirements. An IT team with a backlog of one hundred requests to deploy VMs sees a clear benefit from automating the process via a private cloud platform.

On the flipside, server virtualization saves a lot of money, without requiring a lot of organizational change in IT. However, to get the greatest benefit out of virtualization, IT team structure and processes tend to change over time. Private cloud takes these changes to the extreme, while some organizations choose a phased approach of server virtualization followed by private cloud to minimize confusion, overlapping responsibilities or underskilled positions.

Interestingly, instead of looking at server virtualization and cloud computing separately, organizations must consider cloud as a tool that makes server virtualization easier to use. This approach will not change the work that needs to be done, but it will ease the daily chores of the team and might motivate them to engage in more projects.

Server virtualization can be suitable for organizations that are ready to move its production environment. It allows a lot of change management and governance to remain in place, while adding efficiency. When the development and test environments have lesser restrictive policies in this model. Dev/test is also likely to have a much higher rate of change than production, meaning IT teams have to do more work to support the environment. A private cloud suits dev/test environments very well. A few months with an isolated private cloud can be a great way to gain knowledge and trust in the platform. This will guide any further decisions about making it the center of the production environment.