virtualization vs cloud computing

Raise your hands if you often get confused between Virtualization vs cloud computing?

Though these two terms often seem interchangeable, the difference between both is significant enough to affect your business decisions. We’ll further break down the core differences between Virtualization vs cloud computing and also the unique relationship they share.

Here is a guide to help you understand the difference between Virtualization vs cloud computing.

Let’s get started!

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud Computing is the delivery of the computing services like servers, storage, networking, and intelligence over the Internet i.e over the cloud. Cloud computing helps to store the data and server processing remotely or anywhere across the world. It is possible to have a complete data centre in another environment fully accessible via the internet.

Cloud computing services are of three categories:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
    SaaS is the most common type of cloud-based service, designed to provide access to software without any maintenance requirements. Most of the SaaS services are free, many require a monthly or annual subscription.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
    IaaS users pay only for what they use on a weekly or monthly basis, this is a highlight of IaaS. They even help and manage the customer’s software, hardware, servers, storage. Some vendors even offer the option to pay on an hourly basis. 
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
    PaaS is a cloud environment designed to support application development and here vendors provide everything a company needs to support the entire development lifecycle–from building and testing to deployments and updates–from one central hub.

Cloud computing characteristics

Cloud computing is defined by these characteristics.

  • Internet access
  • Measured service
  • Shared resource pooling
  • On-demand self-serve access. 
  • Rapid elasticity

Example of cloud computing

  • Streaming services
    Platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify manage real-time data, surveillance footage.
  • Data analytics and business intelligence
    To give you a real-time example: look at facebook’s Audience Insights, Google Analytics, as well as more sophisticated platforms with baked-in AI and machine learning capabilities for taking on the challenges of big data.
  • Business tools
    Business applications like Salesforce, email marketing platforms like MailChimp, and many others use cloud-based solutions to integrate, allowing users to build a custom stack with minimal tech-savvy.
  • Collaboration & communication tools
    Examples like Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox uses cloud services. 

Also Read: How cloud computing is impacting Retail Sector?

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is a technology that transforms physical hardware into virtual resources and helps in creating virtual servers, devices and computing resources. This feature can help companies to turn all their networks, storage, data, desktops and applications into virtualization. This technology is developing more logical servers than physical, which makes the administration easier, reduces the cost of acquiring physical servers and hosting infrastructure, and reduces maintenance, which also generates savings for the company.

Characteristics of virtualization

Resource Sharing

Virtualization enables users to limit the number of active servers, reduce power consumption, and manage.


Virtualization software’s self-contained VMs provide guest users. Isolation feature in virtual environment protects the sensitive information while allowing guest to stay connected. 


Virtualization software offers several features and help users to avoid downtime and introduces security threats and safety hazards. 


While virtualization allows multiple devices to share resources and requires cluster management software, which connects a homogeneous group of computers or servers o create a unified resource centre.


Virtualization platforms ensure constant load balancing, which runs unnecessary servers on different host machines. That way, hardware failures is a  minor inconvenience. 

Types of virtualization

  • Server virtualization
  • Data Virtualization
  • Software virtualization
  • Desktop virtualization
  • Storage virtualization

Difference between Virtualization vs. cloud computing is: 

Key Areas Virtualization Cloud Computing 
Service Type Licensing SaaS, IaaS,PaaS
Flexibility Major investment in hardware means there’s no flexibility in terms of infrastructure. The subscription-based model allows uses to try a different solution. They can upgrade, cancel the service anytime.
Quick setup Setting up a Virtual environment is easy Setting up the cloud is a tedious task.
ScalabilityVirtual machines configuration limits its scalability Cloud can be extended.
Dedicated Hardware Dedicated hardware is required for multiple virtual machines Multiple hardware creates cloud computing.
Integrationthe expansion of new machines within the same infrastructure can be done in a virtual environment Cloud allows future expansion of users.
Dependency Multiple OS can be installed.Multiple users can assess the network.
Accessibility Permission is required to access the system from  outside the network Can be accessed from all over the world.
Disaster Recovery Single machine failure can affect all the connected  machines Not depend upon one machine.
TypesHardware and application virtualizationPrivate and Public cloud

How do you know if your business needs a virtualization solution?

Determining if virtualization for a business requires an in-depth analysis. One should consider these questions before implementing a virtual environment:

  • How much management the business can and wants to do?
  • Scalability requirements.
  • Security needs.
  • How much feature development can be expected.
  • How do most of your users work? 
  • Do you have sufficient server capacity?
  • Can your network infrastructure handle user bandwidth requirements?

Benefits of virtualization: 

Benefits of Virtualization
Fewer physical servers required.Ability to continue using legacy software.
Reduced maintenance and energy costs.Enables move to the cloud.
Longer hardware refresh cycles.Instant offsite access to files and applications.
Ability to use thin clients.Less downtime and fewer unplanned outages.
Quicker and easier backup and disaster recovery.Less time spent providing desk side support.
More efficient IT infrastructure.More efficient deployment of hardware and software upgrades.
Reduced operating costs.Increased security.

How do you know if your business needs a cloud solution?

If you are still confused with what solution to take up? virtualization may be the best solution for some organizations, yet cloud offers several advantages that are suitable for business with the following needs:

  • Outsourced IT —  Cloud solution can help outsources the IT industry that works on day-to-day administration. Adopting the cloud can help internal IT resources to concentrate on crucial work and allow you to put IT budget dollars toward efforts that advance your business. 
  • Quick setup — Cloud is quick and easy, several permanent licenses go away when you use such services. 
  • Pay-as-you-go — SaaS is the best example of a pay-as-you-go service.  You pay for what you use.
  • Scalability — By using the cloud, you can also temporarily scale your IT capacity and pay for only what you need and use, only at the time when you need it.

Benefits of Cloud computing: 

Benefits of Cloud Computing 
Cost SavingSecurity 
Flexibility Mobility
Insight Increased Collabration
Quality ControlDisaster Recovery
Loss Prevention Automatic Software updates 
Competitive Edge Sustainability

What should businesses look for in a virtualization provider?

Businesses should consider these questions before taking up virtualization. Some of the questions are:

  • Is it a tried and tested solution? Research the vendor’s track record and customer adoption.
  • Is there a public roadmap for the solution? Research how the solution will advance and how it will help your business to grow.
  • What type of ecosystem support? 
  • Does the solution support openness? Research about the flexibility, as the business grows products and process will parallelly evolve so, understand its capability to incorporate other technologies over time.

What’s next?

Technology keeps on changing, virtualization and cloud services are not end-all, so, adapt to the new technology.
We all should understand that cloud computing is an evolution of virtualization, so they have their own benefits and they are not competing with each other. This conversation often leads to talk of serverless computing, which helps in eliminating end-user concerns. This technology is “pay as you go”, yet it is not offerable to many small businesses, but is consistently becoming more affordable as the technology is developed.

Which One Is Best for You?

Virtualization technology is here with some serious game-changing benefits, this implementation requires a significant amount of resources and planning. Organizations that rely on hardware should consider and invest in upgrading their hardware to cloud infrastructure to make more sense. This will benefit in a long term by unlocking new business opportunities and reducing operational costs.

If you wish to learn more about Cloud Computing, you can join Great Learning’s PGP Cloud Computing Course and unlock your dream career.



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